Here is another article inspired by the wonderful Bez from Stuff by Bez. She suggested I talk about the representation of bees. There wasn’t any particular angle she wanted me to take, but the title alone gave me some inspiration. So in this article, I want to look at board games that feature bees in some way.

I think the topic of bees really only represents one of the many more fresh subjects that modern board games cover. We’ve had plenty of games exploring human history in more or often less successful ways, often glossing over critical historical facts and redrawing the past with the quill of the Westerner and their very skewed views of what actually went on. Board games have also explored many science-fiction, fantasy and other fictional settings, and I don’t think I have to mention the vast genre of train games.

So seeing some more unusual topics, such as bees, making it into our hobby is wonderful. In fact, a lot of nature themes have made their way into our hobby. There are not only bees, but also mushrooms, trees, birds and probably many others that I just can’t think of.

I think that bee-themed board games have been steadily on the rise, because of the growing ecological awareness and interest in environmental conservation. These games have succeeded in captivating players by offering a fresh perspective on the natural world and by making connections between gameplay and real-life issues, such as the importance of bee populations to our food supply.

Bees Emerge

One of the earliest bee-themed board games that I can think of is Hive. The game doesn’t feature just bees, but many other insects too. It is a two-player abstract strategy game, where players place hexagonal tiles that mimic a beehive and have to outmaneuver each other’s insects. A wonderful touch, which was possibly just a coincidence, is that the six-sided tiles reflect the natural hexagonal shape of the cells in a honeycomb.

Another game that puts bees at the centre and also uses the hex shape is The Bears and the Bees. Players are working outwards from the queen bee in the centre to increase the colony and be the first to get rid of all of their cards. The game also features honey-eating bears, not of the Pooh variety, but real-life ones.

The wonderful Applejack also features bees, even though the focus is on apples, not bees. In fact, rather than bees, it’s more the hives that play a role in this fun game, which also has hex tiles in it. As we know, apple trees won’t produce fruit unless they are pollinated and bees are one of the biggest pollinators.

The recent Apiary does make bees the centre of attention, but it takes the topic and combines it with a futuristic science-fiction setting. Apparently, the absence of humans on Earth in some distant future has allowed another sentient species to take their place. Yes, it’s the humble honeybee.

Of course, none of these games is particularly educational, even though the first three could potentially work as a way to teach about bees in some small way.

a beautiful illustration on your player board sowing a man carrying a box towards a wheelbarrow
there are bee hives in Applejack

Bee Educated

One of the few modern board games that features bees and that is of educational value is Ecogon. The game focuses on the interaction of animals and plants and tries to illustrate how there is a whole web of dependencies. The role of the player is to create sustainable environments with a variety of animals and plants. So even though bees are only one of many of the animals featured in the game, they are still there.

However, that’s the only game I can think of that actually teaches people through play and features bees. I think that is a reflection on how niche the topic of bees actually is in our hobby. Sure, if you try and get a list of all games published so far that have the word “bee” in it, you will probably get a couple of hundred titles. At the same time, that number is minuscule when you compare it to games with a different topic.

While bee-themed board games have the potential to educate players about the vital role bees play in the environment and to teach about pollination, biodiversity and the ecological impact of declining bee populations, there currently don’t seem to be many games that do so. That might be a reflection of how few games we have in our hobby that have some educational value, but it also shows how much more there is to explore in the space.

Bee-themed board games could easily be made in partnership with environmental organizations and include informative materials about bee conservation efforts. These games would not just be about play but also about raising funds and awareness for important conservation initiatives.

I’ll Be Off

Given everything I said so far, I think the topic of bees has a lot of potential. It highlights how we still have a lot more to explore in our hobby. Seeing more nature-themed games enter the market is really encouraging, even if many of them are there to entertain rather than educate us. Even so, play allows us to get to know about a topic we may have otherwise never thought about. Just playing a game about bees can encourage us to find out more for ourselves – and it doesn’t just have to be about bees, of course.

So, what do you think? Do you like bee-themed games? What is your favourite? Do you know any bee-themed games that have an educational value? Have you seen any games about bees that were made in partnership with an environmental organisation? As always, please be so kind and share your thoughts. It’s the hive mind that we need.

Useful Links

Audio Version

Intro Music: Bomber (Sting) by Riot (

Music: Sunny Morning by MusicLFiles
Free download:
Licensed under CC BY 4.0:

Music: Falling Tears by MusicLFiles
Free download:
Licensed under CC BY 4.0:


These are the songs I listened to while I was writing this topic discussion article:


  1. Education in games is always a tough one. It can be hard to make a game that is fun, engaging and has teaching moments. It’s often left to bits of facts in the rules or at the bottom of cards. But I do think it’s possible, so I hope more people pursue this.

    As for bees, the first game that I thought of was Honey Buzz. Though I haven’t played it and it’s not very educational as it’s an economic worker placement game, but it does seem quite interesting. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look accessible for Will’s vision, which is why it’s one we haven’t gotten.

    I just recently got Apiary and hope to play it soon!

    Thanks for the interesting discussion!

    1. Hello again Sarah. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Educational games are definitely quite a different beast to the hobby games most of us will play. I just wish there were more games that highlight certain issues a bit more. Thank you also for sharing your thoughts on other bee-themed games. Honey Buzz and Apiary are definitely on the list. I’m glad you liked the article.

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