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A race with an allegedly eusocial structure; roughly, one queen and lots of workers. Since this inevitably brings to mind ants and bees, it's often a One-Gender Race with some military/warrior overtones. Almost always occurs if the race is even vaguely insectoid, even though this isn't a common set-up for most insects. It's just very easy to associate a hive with a civilization structure, as bees and ants are often seen as extremely advanced insects who act a little like us.

Which group is designated as "drones" depends on the writer's knowledge of what those actually are, but they rarely get a break. Occasionally there's a small subversion that shows that drones do perform vital functions besides breeding, that most people just don't notice.

The queen herself looks different from everyone else, although she'll act like a human queen and is implied to be the strongest, instead of just being an egg factory.

A "Hive Mind" or telepathic link among members of the race, whether by supernatural or more scientific means, such as radio antennae, is an almost universal feature. Naturally, it will actually be completely centralized within the Hive Queen.

Compare Hive Caste System and Fantastic Caste System. Related to Intelligent Gerbil.

Examples of Bee People include:


Anime and Manga

  • Macross Frontier - The Vajra fit this very well. However, while they do have a queen, it oversees the operation of their collective consciousness shared by each, as opposed to controlling them like mindless drones.
  • The Bugrom in El-Hazard: The Magnificent World are an odd variation, in that they mostly look like overgrown beetles but their queen is an attractive humanoid woman with a few token insectoid traits.
  • The vampires in Blood+ are a cross between regular vampires and Bee People to make their vampires different.
  • In the manga version of Chrono Crusade, the demons have a social structure much like this, to the point where Chrono even compares them to bees.
  • The Diclonii from Elfen Lied are not remotely bug-like in appearance, but...
    • They are a One-Gender Race (female)
    • They have one "Queen"-- Lucy-- who can (theoretically) reproduce traditionally (biologically) in addition to spreading The Virus that causes the condition to be passed on to normal humans' future children
    • Many "drones" (selpelits) whose life spans are half a normal human's/diclonius's and are sterile though they can also spread The Virus, it just produces more selpelits
    • They share a weak telepathic link that allows them to sense when another Diclonius is nearby
  • The anime Spider Riders is one of the more obvious examples. The only difference being that the Insectors are run by a lord and not a queen.

Card Games

  • The Slivers in Magic: The Gathering are a form of Bee People. Whether they were engineered by Rathi biologists or a natural species enslaved by the evincars, the slivers had a queen and several specialist varieties--but the specialists could grant their own abilities to every other sliver in range. After the queen died in the overlay that put them in the heart of a volcano, they became almost entirely extinct--but a couple centuries later, some science wizards decided to bring them back...and promptly lost control, as they could not create a queen. Even after a few more apocalypses, the slivers are still kicking, though they've lost most of their numbers, and are even developing a central hive-mind.
    • Also from the Lorwyn/Shadowmoor blocks, we have the faerie race. All faeries are born from and obey their absolute ruler, Oona, Queen of the Fae.

Comic Books

  • The Brood, the X-Men aliens that are distinctly "inspired" by Alien. Oddly enough, the "queen" setup was given to the Brood before it was canon in the Alien movies.
  • Despite being more like bats in appearance, the creatures Tom Strong were captured by on the moon were clearly hive-like in terms of society.
  • The JLA had the Queen Bee Zazzala, the leader of a world of bee-like beings.
  • The aliens from Camelot 3000 have a ruling Queen Mother, although her authority had been usurped by Morgan la Fey.

Film

  • Apparently played straight in Aliens, and probably the inspiration for a great many others. Ripley has to face down the Alien Queen in the endgame of the movie. In a deleted scene, Bishop and Hudson speculate on the Queen's existence, even comparing them to bees - which is ridiculed by Vasquez.


Literature

  • The Buggers from the Ender novels by Orson Scott Card.
  • The Arachnids from Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers. The book version had non-biological technology, the movie and animated series versions didn't. Note that in all three, the queens are mere egg-layers (though the animated series made her fairly smart) and the Brain Bug caste are the true leaders.
  • Frank Herbert's Hellstrom's Hive, although the Bee People are fully human, they emulate hive insects to an extremely disturbing extent.
    • In Frank Herbert's The Green Brain, the insects of the Amazon Rainforest have been taken over by a disembodied brain fed by legions of ants. Their goal is to destroy human habitation in the Amazon.
  • The Nac Mac Feegle from the Discworld series have this arrangement; there isn't a hive-mind, however, so much as they mostly think alike -- that is, very little -- and concentrate most of the group's brainpower in their kelda (queen/mother) and gonnagle (bard).
  • The Helmacrons from Animorphs are an alien race whose society fits this trope, with a strong emphasis on social and racial pride, grovelling before the dead queen, submissive, slavish males, and an indifference toward the death of the individual. As for their anatomy, they resemble insects not only in their shape, but in their size--being about the size of fleas.
    • Subverted when Marco and Cassie, attempting to teach their male keeper (who Marco dubs "Wuss" for obvious reasons) a thing or two about gender equality, inadvertently start a massive social uprising. The consequences of this are never explored outside the context that the characters consider it a bit of a joke, but it's more than likely that, now that both genders violently believe that they should be in charge, the whole species is going to go extinct.
  • The Cho-Ja, from Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts' Empire Trilogy, are social insectoids that hire out their warrior caste as mercenaries.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe had one of these: The Killiks. They aren't lead by a queen though, but just form a collective consciousness. Any individual of another species that stay near a Killik nest for too long will end up joining that collective consciousness. It gets particularly dangerous when a fallen Force User becomes a Joiner, as they can corrupt the entire nest. Force users in general who become Joiners can become fantastically powerful, able to draw on the Force potential of their entire nest.
  • The The Nights Dawn Trilogy trilogy contains a race of aliens known as the Tyrathca, who are divided into "castes" based on their mother's breeding cycle. The "breeders" are the only fully intelligent caste, with other castes such as builders, hunters, nurses, etc, having no more intelligence than is needed to perform the tasks they are bred for.
  • L Sprague De Camp's novel Rogue Queen, set in his Viagens Interplanetarias universe, features the Ormazdians, a race of medieval-age humanoid monotreme aliens who have a fairly scientifically accurate hive society with egg-laying queens, sterile female workers, and male drones who only live to fertilize the queen. There is also a subspecies that has both worker and soldier females. The Ormazdians' sexual development is triggered by meat proteins, so the queens explicitly forbid workers from eating meat, claiming that it will poison them. Naturally humans arrive on Ormazd, help some workers they've befriended discover the truth, and destroy the entire Ormazdian societal structure. This is portrayed as ultimately for the best, as the hive society causes stagnation. The Ormazdians should not be confused with the Krishnans, another race of medieval-age humanoid monotremes from the Viagens Interplanetarias universe who do not live in a hive structure.
  • The Rix in Scott Westerfeld's The Risen Empire are an apparently bee-like human society dominated by sentient computers, who open the book by invading the titular Empire. Subverted as the hero (and the reader) gradually learns more about them and realizes that he's been seeing them through the distorting lens of Imperial propaganda; by the end of the book it's clear that the Rix are actually the good guys.
  • Man After Man: The Hivers from Dougal Dixon's are human-descended herbivores which evolved into this.
  • Well of Souls: Many hyper-communist human colony-worlds have begun evolving in this direction in Jack Chalker's series, although they haven't gone so far as to develop a single queen who does all the breeding (yet).
  • In The Left Hand of Darkness a person remarks that some culture of the genderless people of Gethen would have probably created a similar society -- except there are no social insects on Gethen to take example from.
  • Let me tell you about Vergil: He loved this trope. He devoted an entire section of his Eclogues to bees, and often uses bee metaphors for well-functioning cities, e.g., for Dido and Carthage before Love Ruins the Realm or the Romans themselves. Vergil is particularly notable in that he puts a king at the top of bee society; in his time, people believed that a male ruled the hive. Bees crop up in other contemporary and earlier works, too.
  • Inverted with the thranx from the Humanx Commonwealth series, as these intelligent insectoids used to have single breeder-queens, but re-evolved the capacity for all females to breed in the course of attaining sentience. Mothers are still highly revered in their culture, and offspring are reared in creches.

Live Action TV

  • Star Trek: The Next Generation
    • The Borg are basically like this, even going so far as to have a queen introduced in the film First Contact. They were originally envisioned as insectoids, but when they finally made it into the show appeared as cyborgs.
    • Also, the Neural Parasites -- originally intended as the Borg's first wave of attack, but later retconned into something different.
  • So Weird had an episode featuring literal Bee People. Made somewhat hilarious, as despite them having a queen, eating flowers, spitting out wax, and decorating their town with honeycomb patterns -- nobody seemed to be able to figure out what was going on.
  • The Big Bad from Stargate Atlantis, the Wraith, are human-insectoid hybrids whose society is run by queens. They even have hiveships and the queens are usually considered a much bigger foe than the ordinary 'drone' wraith. Oh, they are also life-sucking-sufficiently-advanced-aliens, so that makes them Our Vampires Are Different, too.
  • Speaking of vamps, the ones from Charmed act like bee people.
  • The Chimerons from the Doctor Who episode "Delta and the Bannermen" are implied to have been like this (and they're overtly compared to bees throughout the episode). An unusual portrayal in that the entire species apart from the Queen has been wiped out.

Real Life

  • Weird Real Life example: the naked mole rat is one of the only mammals to exhibit eusocial behavior (the other one is the Damaraland mole rat). The queens keep the other female rats infertile with no desire to reproduce by having a community restroom chamber filled with her own urine, which contains suppressing hormones.
  • Some social mammal groups (African Wild Dogs, meerkats) also restrict all breeding privileges to the top female of the group, but only because the boss females chase off any daughter who dares to breed, and/or kill their daughters' litters.
  • Bees. Termites have been eusocial for even longer, and have far more complex castes and collective behaviors than ants or bees.

Tabletop Games

  • The Tyranids from Warhammer 40000. At the fleet level. The Tau Empire, meanwhile, have teamed up with the Vespids, though it's been heavily implied that the Ethereals have, to some degree, usurped the role of "queen" from whatever individuals filled that role before.
  • The Myrmidons from Profound Decisions' Maelstrom LARP setting.
  • Dungeons and Dragons features several such races, the most well-known of which are the Formians. However, the Formians actually are ant-people.
    • The official sourcebook, Races of the Dragon, suggests that Kobolds are a race of reptilian people with bee-like behavior. They put very little emphasis on their own lives and self-worth, instead worrying about their tribe/city/etc's health and welfare as a whole. Descriptions of their mining and military operations extend the comparison: Miners move and work in perfect sync, using bardic music to help create a rhythm; military operations (those that aren't won by their legions of traps) are basically "swarm them, and if you can't win by Swarming, Swarm more (while you get the women and children to safety)". Children are conceived normally, but mates only stay together as long as it takes to lay the eggs, and hatchlings are raised communally with no knowledge of who their biological parents are. Individuals can form interpersonal friendships, but romantic love is a foreign concept to them.
    • The Abeil from Monster Manual II are literal bee people -- they have elflike heads, bodies, and arms but beelike legs, wings, and stingers. They're actually three symbiotic species: Vassals (workers), soldiers, and queens. Their reproductive habits aren't described in depth, but it's implied that there are both male and female vassals and soldiers and that both reproduce amongst themselves, but there are only female queens, and they reproduce by mating with male vassals. Vassals provide menial labor for the entire hive-city, but are individuals who have lives outside of their work, and some privileged individuals become part of the royal court (equivalent to drones). Each hive-city has a caste of queens, one of whom rules the hive and has inherent magic powers; when the old high queen dies or a new city is founded, one of the lesser queens consumes royal jelly and becomes a full-fledged queen.
    • All that said, the mantis-like Thri-Kreen don't have a hive-live society at all.
      • If they did, that would be not doing the research. Mantids are not even close to being social insects.
      • Kreen are called "mantis", but resemble grasshoppers or crickets (Orthoptera) as much -- walks upright, but has jumping legs and 4 equal arms (though their primitive relatives Trin are mantis-like). They're extremely social, but living mostly in arid climate it's easier to survive as small mobile packs than as loners or large groups, so thri-kreen (nomadic people) are more typical than tohr-kreen (settled people), and "clutch mentality" fits this form best.
    • Finally, we have the Dromites of the Expanded Psionics handbook. Utterly asexual, dromite society is populated by the Grand Queen and the Elected Consort. Puzzingly, as the Elected Consort's name suggests, both of them are elected to their positions annually. How exactly this is possible is never discussed. Dromites also have a caste system, but this caste system is relatively fluid, with family groups (which adopt newborn dromites) usually containing multiple castes. Also, caste membership is defined by what energy (Fire, Electricity, Sonic, or Cold) the Dromite is able to control, although this does tend to breed certain traits that go with it (Fire are quick-tempered and emotional, Cold are slow to decide but often right, and so on). MST3K Mantra plays a decent part in their existence, me thinks. Although they do have some degree of popularity.
  • In Mortasheen, the Geneti- line of creatures are this, due to the fact that they are heavily inspired by the Xenomorphs, with Genetimorph as the worker/solder and Genetisaur as the queen.
    • The Jokers from the same series are a sort of subversion, as though they are spawned from a cotton-candy-like hive and do have a "queen" of sorts in the Harlequeen, they are pretty much the definition of Chaotic Neutral (Or Chaotic Evil depending on how you look at it).
  • The Hivers in the Traveller universe are a quasi-aversion: they live in communal dwellings which look kind of like hives or anthills, but they have no caste system and go to great efforts to mate with outsiders from other nests.
    • The Droyne are closer as they do indeed have a bee-like biological caste arrangement. However, though very communal they don't quite have a Hive Mind.
  • The Melissidae bloodline from Vampire: The Requiem is an attempt at making the perfect society of bee people; a Melissidae will usually gather a group of vampires or ghouls around herself, liberally apply the blood bond, and use Animalism and Dominate to cut down whatever individuality remains. As the end result would be a gigantic breach of the Masquerade, they don't exactly hold open tryouts.
  • Tech Infantry has the Arachnids, commonly referred to as The Bugs.

Toys

  • Bionicle: The Bohrok. Slightly subverted in that they have two queens, as well as the Bohrok-Kal, who are completely free-willed.

Video Games

  • The Pokémon Vespiquen, which is a humanoid bee queen. Combee, the pre-evolution, seem to serve as drones.
  • The Hivers in the video game Sword of the Stars play this straight, although supplemental material included with the game reveals that it's more multi-faceted and deeply considered than the typical Bee People.
    • The Hiver society has several castes, including worker drones, soldiers, and rulers. The Queen is the ruler of all Hivers and is the only one who can give birth to Princesses. The Princesses rule their own clans and are mothers of all members of their clan. What deviates from the typical Bee People is the presence of the Princes, who are high-caste males who act as consorts to Princesses and generals to the warrior caste. Princes are highly valued and many wars have been fought between clans for them. It is also, apparently, possible for regular drones to be elevated to Prince status, if one is deserving. How they compare to highborn Princes is unknown.
      • Workers and Warriors elevated to Prince or (very rarely) Princess status are highborn. For Hivers, reincarnation is a fact of life and is used to preserve or promote particularly valued Sons.
    • There may be several Queens. If a Princess manages to isolate herself from the inhibiting pheromones of the reigning Queen, she can mature into a Queen herself. Furthermore, a princess can jump start the process by consuming the Crown Jewels of a dead Queen.
  • The Zerg from Starcraft. Oddly, the Queen neither lays eggs nor rules the Hive Clusters--the Hives themselves spawn larvae periodically; Overlords rules individual clusters, Cerebrates control broods, and the Overmind directs the Swarm as a whole. The Queens are defined in the manual as an odd sort of unit whose primary duties seem to be to guard larva and eggs.
    • The Queens do rule over their own private swarm of creatures that they make use of to perform their ingame abilities.
    • In the sequel, Queens have been re-purposed as hive-tenders and also have the ability to spawn larvae, but only at a hive.
  • The Metroid series averts the tendency for insectoids to always be Bee People. The Space Pirates of the series have some degree of insectoid traits made more pronounced by their armor, the Chozo have insectoid and avian traits, and the Luminoth are distinctly mothlike, but none have ever been seriously portrayed as Bee People. Some strains of metroids grow reproductive queens but have no social structure beyond pack hunting. The spiderish Ing, however, combine Bee People with The Legions of Hell.
    • The Pirates do seem to be rather inept in their plans without the leadership of some other powerful being such as Mother Brain, Ridley, Dark Samus in Prime 3, etc.
  • An unusual variant, the mudokons from the Oddworld series. One queen(called Sam), and millions of slaves. The unfortunate thing is that the queen is being held by the glukkons, heartless industrialists, and used to produce free, docile labour. The player character is one of these.
    • Not only that, also Glukkons and Sligs present egg producing queens, though the Glukkon Queen Elizabeth is only heard of and the Slig Queen was only to appear at Duke Nukem Forever-ish Hand of Odd. It seems people at OW really liked the concept of Bee People...
  • The Skaarj from Unreal. Unusually for the trope, they're predominately reptiloid; only the pupae and queens have any insectoid traits.
    • Game fluff, especially in Unreal Tournament 2004, show that they definitely do have individuality, right down to names and personalities for individual Skaarj, and a particularly barbaric Proud Warrior Race Guy culture.
  • The Locust Horde from Gears of War is ruled by a Queen, with an army consisting of LOTS and LOTS of disposable drones. Like the Bugrom example from El Hazard, the drones are fairly monsterous, but oddly enough the queen looks like a human woman with a few cosmetic insect bits.
    • This is because the Locusts have an insidious but not fully fleshed out backstory.
  • Mass Effect both plays this straight and averts it in the form of the Rachni, who are a brutally violent, intelligent species of insect-like aliens. However, it turns out that the ones Shepard ends up fighting are the way they are because they have been separated from their queen and thus driven insane. The actual queen doesn't seem all that bad, and it's implied that the Bug War her species waged on the Citadel races roughly 2,000 years ago was solely due to the mind control of the resident Cosmic Horror, Sovereign.
    • In fact, if you save the queen in the first game, there's an asari you meet in the second game who mentions that the rachni helped repair her starship, and if you save the queen again in the third game, she'll aid you in the war effort against the Reapers.
    • The Collectors are another race of Bee People, quite distinct from the Rachni. They show up in the second game, but they are mentioned in the first game as well. They release swarms of bugs to sting and immobilize their victims, who they "collect." The Protheans they were created from were far less insect-like, though.
  • Q-Bee (pictured above) and the Soul Bee tribe from Darkstalkers is this trope to a T. Even the asskicking part due to her being in a fighting game.
  • The second Turok game had a species of insectile humanoids called "Mantids" (because the main caste look like humanoid mantises) with this trope. Hunting down the pupating Queens is part of your mission for the level, and the boss is the actual Queen herself.
  • The Bixies of Ever Quest fit perfectly into this Trope.
  • The Aparoids of Star Fox Assault pretty much fit this trope to a tee. They are a species with not just a collective mind, but a collective existence, all ruled over by a queen. The titular team of heroes take advantage of this to beat them by injecting a virus into the Aparoid Queen, which sends it out to every other Aparoid and destroys them.
  • A rather literal example comes from Kingdom of Loathing: The Guy Made of Bees, who was once an ordinary beekeeper before he gave himself up to the bees, and is now a single creature with a literal Hive Mind. His Catch Phrase is "We are Bees. We hate you."
  • The Darkspawn from Dragon Age Origins. The process through which more are born is Nightmare Fuel. They are united by a Hive Mind of sorts, but most are pretty much mindless monsters with the exception of particularly intelligent Emissaries like the Architect.
  • The Yanme'e (Drones) from Halo. They are insectoid, and live in a eusocial society on their homeworld

Western Animation

  • The Irken race from Invader Zim. (Not a schoolbook example, but does have the bug-like appearance and the mass-produced drones and the hive-like social hierarchy.)
    • That's actually a pretty apt comparison: an innumerable volume of workers who serve a larger leader, the Tallests, who are essentially queen king bees.
    • Interestingly, despite the insectoid look, what level of Hive Mind they have is achieved through bionics - specifically, their backpacks and the Control Brains.
  • Futurama: Planet Wormulon, where Slurm is made has a race of slugs with a queen that produces soda instead of honey. While normally she only produces slurm, she can also produce highly delicious, and very concentrated "super slurm" and it is also implied that she can create royal jelly that can turn regular human's into worm queens, though their slurm will taste foul.
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: The Andreenids in the 2002 reboot. They were based off of Bee Man from the original toyline.
  • Queen Bumble and the bees of Bumbleland in My Little Pony and Friends are humanoid bee people, though they retain multiple limbs.

Webcomic

  • MSF High: The Legion also fit in this, as they are a caste system. In a subversion, their caste is more of a meritocracy. People are granted abilities to do what they are good at, and people can have multiple castes. (Princesses and Queens, in fact, have the abilities of all castes.)
  • In twokinds, eastern basitins are similar because they have a very rigid class system,gender segregation, an unusual culture(they dial the nudity taboo up to 11), and a biological compulsion to obey orders, but they lack the hive mind aspect.


Web Original

  • The artist dimespin's work in progress Amber Rust features Bee People in the most literal sense of the word.

 "Bees. My God". Well we had to have a stinger.

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