Queen bee

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A queen bee, a, is a type of monster that appears in NetHack. It is an insect that is a much stronger version of the killer bee and is an overlord to them.

A queen bee has a poisonous sting, and possesses poison resistance.

A queen bee corpse is poisonous to eat, but eating its corpse or tin has a 35 chance of conveying poison resistance.


Queen bees are not randomly generated, and are always created hostile. They are eligible forms for normal polymorph.

Each beehive contains a single queen bee, including the guaranteed one within the Wizard's Tower.

Queen bees can hatch from eggs, including ones laid by a player polymorphed into a queen bee. However, only 177 of eggs laid by queen bees will be queen bee eggs, and the rest will be killer bee eggs.[1]

The following information pertains to an upcoming version (NetHack 3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.

Killer bees can now eat royal jelly to grow up into queen bees if no queen already exists on the level. Pet killer bees will actively seek out nearby royal jelly to do this. This will kill them if queen bees are genocided.

Rubbing non-cursed royal jelly on a killer bee egg will turn it into a queen bee egg; cursed royal jelly will kill the egg ('The egg quivers feebly'), while non-cursed jelly will revive it ('The egg quivers briefly'), and blessed jelly will make the newborn creature think you are its parent, so it is guaranteed to hatch tame.


Queen bees are exceedingly fast at 24, and are tied with unicorns, warhorses and the mail daemon for third-highest speed among monsters. Their sting is also more than twice the strength of normal killer bees - unfortunate characters that find an early beehive before obtaining poison resistance would do well to steer clear. Queen bees are also eligible forms for shapeshifters such as the animal-favoring chameleon, which can be a nasty surprise for a similarly hapless character.

The queen bee is quite vicious on its own, but has 0 MR score and remains as vulnerable to wands and spells as normal bees. More often than not a queen is accompanied by her hive, and improperly handling a swarm can result in damage piling up quickly - even with poison resistance, you should be solidly armored with a weapon that can reliably land hits against their low AC. Stealth is an excellent property to use in clearing beehives, and crowd-control tactics like scaring via bugle or tooled horn and funneling them through long hallways can keep the queen off your back until you have dealt with the weaker bees.

The following information pertains to an upcoming version (3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.

Poison no longer causes instadeath, but still results in significant damage to HP and attributes. Unicorn horns no longer restore lost attributes.

Stealth no longer guarantees that a hive of bees will remain asleep: if you attack a killer bee or other sleeping monster and the attack does not kill them, they will wake up other monsters nearby. Killer bees will also eat lumps of royal jelly to become queen bees, making it prudent to save the original queen for last when clearing out a hive if you want an easier fight and/or want their jelly for yourself.


The queen bee is introduced in NetHack 3.0.0, which also introduces beehives.


A queen bee is typically an adult, mated female of a honey bee species that lives in a colony or hive - the term "queen bee" can be more generally applied to any dominant, reproductive female in a eusocial bee species colony. The queen is usually the primary bee with fully developed reproductive organs, and thus the mother of most (if not all) of the bees in the beehive. Queens are developed from larvae selected by worker bees and specially fed with royal jelly in order to become sexually mature; the bees usually follow and fiercely protect the solitary queen.

In some species such as the Brazilian stingless bee, a single nest may have multiple queens or even dwarf queens, ready to replace a dominant queen in a case of sudden death.


You feel very comfortable here.
You sat on a throne as a queen bee, and no effect occurred.



In SLASH'EM, a bug causes beehives to only generate on special levels - as a result, in most games the only queen bee encountered will be the one in the Wizard's Tower.


In dNetHack, queen bees are lawful. Some queen bees are encountered on the Lawful Quest, and can generate with armor made to fit their body shape.

A queen bee generated on the Lawful Quest has a 35 chance of generating with armor: a 110 chance of generating with plate mail, a 15 chance of generating with chain mail, and a 310 chance of generating with a gentlewoman's dress. Queen bees that receive non-dress armor will also generate with a helmet.


In EvilHack, one to four honey badgers may spawn on any level with a beehive and will dig towards it as fast as possible unless you are closer - this has the added peril of likely waking the queen and her hive before you are prepared to deal with either them or the badgers.


In SlashTHEM, the Gnome King's Apiary is a variant of Mines' End that contains a beehive with a queen bee and several killer bees, as well as a statue of a queen bee.

Encyclopedia entry

See the encyclopedia entry for bee.