I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve gotten from beekeepers informing me that worker bees are female (Buzz, the main character in To Bee or Not to Bee, is male). Female beekeepers in particular are bothered by this as they feel a gender affinity with their “girls,” who work so hard to provide them with honey. Completely understandable.
Please know that this gender switch was intentional, not a mistake. When I researched and wrote To Bee or Not to Bee I was well aware that worker bees are female. I chose to make Buzz a male for two reasons. First, the book is highly autobiographical and, beeing a male, I didn’t feel I could authentically write it from a female perspective. If I had I can only imagine the emails from women asking how a man could dare to write a book whose main character was female.
Secondly, Buzz’s plight is classically male—caught up in the hectic corporate world, overworked, governed by the expectations of others, wishing for a way out. This is not to say that women don’t find themselves in this situation. Sadly, an increasing percentage do. But historically, the plight of worker bees as it relates to human society is more male than female.
Finally I would like to add that in writing allegories, we take liberties to make the story more relatable to human life. For example, having insects that talk.
So to my beekeeping readers, especially female ones, please know that I am guilty as charged. But please also know that this was not mistake but was done to make the story more authentic for all human beeings. If you can suspend your concerns about Buzz’s gender, you’ll see why bees are the perfect allegorical vehicle for spurring spiritual growth and understanding. And hopefully you’ll get a few chuckles and snickers along the way.Print This Post