Friday, November 2, 2007

Male Bees (and Ants) in the Movies: A Rant

By Nancy Jane Moore

Bee Movie is a new animated film out starring (the voice of) Jerry Seinfeld as a worker bee who gets to know a human woman (there's a hint of romance in the reviews I've read) and decides to sue humans for stealing honey from bees.

I don't get it. All worker bees are female -- sterile females (only queens are fertile). The only males in a beehive are drones and their only significant purpose is to have sex with a queen. And their DNA is all from the queen -- they're made from unfertilized eggs. So why is the bee star of Bee Movie male -- not just the actor (I've got no problem with male actors playing female roles and vice versa), but the character? Apparently he's not a drone, at least according to the official website for the movie.

I had the same problem with the animated ant movie of a couple of years ago. As I assume everyone who ever took grade school science knows, bees and ants aren't like humans when it comes to gender and reproduction. So why all the "male" worker bees and ants in the movies?

Why has no one ever mentioned this in a review? Doesn't this bother anybody but me? Surely it annoys the science teachers and entomologists. It's bound to confuse children.

I don't have any real trouble with the plot -- a bee who talks to a human (there's a hint of romance) and sues people for stealing honey. Fantasy is fine. But there's no reason why the anthropomorphized bee can't be female. It doesn't screw with the plot one bit.

Besides, misrepresenting the way bees work takes all the fun out of the fact that bees are different from you and me.

No comments: