Bridgerton has finally returned! And among the many reveals, twists, and surprises fans can expect from Season 2 is the chance to unpack the significance of the bee spotted at the close of Season 1. What’s up with the bees in Bridgerton? We’ve got everything you need to know below. Major spoilers for Bridgerton and Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton novels follow.
A Netflix Original Series produced by Shondaland and created by Chris Van Dusen (Grey’s Anatomy), Bridgerton is adapted from Julia Quinn’s Regency-era romance series of the same name. The books follow the eight Bridgerton siblings — Anthony, Benedict, Colin, Daphne, Eloise, Francesca, Gregory, and Hyacinth — as they find their true loves in early-19th-century London’s highly competitive marriage market.
Based on the first of the Bridgerton books, The Duke and I, Bridgerton Season 1 centered on Daphne’s romance with Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings. At the time, fans took the season’s final shot — a close-up of a bee — as a reference to the second Bridgerton novel, The Viscount Who Loved Me. In the book, Anthony, the young Viscount Bridgerton, finds himself forced to marry his intended’s protective elder sister after his attempt to suck venom out of a bee sting on her chest leaves them in a scandalous position. But is that the full story of the Bridgerton bee? Here’s a look at the bee’s presence in the Netflix series thus far, and some ideas about what it might mean.
Edmund Bridgerton’s Death
Quinn’s readers already know what happened to Edmund Bridgerton, Lady Violet’s late husband and the father of the Bridgerton children. Around 10 years before the events of The Duke and I, Edmund died from an allergic reaction to a bee sting. At the time, Anthony was still a teenager.
Rather than serving as a reminder of one of the family’s greatest tragedies, however, the bees that show up in Netflix’s Bridgerton seem to represent something far more hopeful. The bees usually seem to turn up when the Bridgerton family is assembled and things are on the right track, suggesting that perhaps the former Lord Bridgerton is still with them after all.
Anthony Bridgerton’s Anxieties
The loss of his father forced Anthony to become the Viscount Bridgerton well before he was ready to take on the responsibility. It completely changed the course of his life, causing him to make decisions based on his sense of duty to the Bridgerton name, rather than for his own happiness. Because he believes he will die young like his father — perhaps even in the same way — Anthony refuses to fall in love, much less marry for it.
You can imagine, then, how the duty-bound Lord Bridgerton feels when a young lady is stung by a bee right in front of him. In The Viscount Who Loved Me, Anthony insists on attempting to save Kate’s life by sucking out the bee’s poison. When they’re seen in what appears to be a spicy situation, Anthony has no choice but to marry Kate, even though his intention was to marry her younger sister, Edwina, instead.
Things play out a little differently in Bridgerton Season 2, however. When Kate is stung, Anthony panics. It’s up to her to calm his anxieties, in a scene that makes both of the young singletons realize just how fond of one another they really are. No, there’s no venom-sucking scene — sorry to everyone who expected things to go that way in the Netflix version — but still, way to go, bee, eh?
Benedict Bridgerton’s Artistic Pursuits
Eagle-eyed Bridgerton fans who spotted a bee embroidered on Benedict Bridgerton’s shirt collar in Season 1 will be happy to learn that his bee shirt returns in Season 2, along with a waistcoat covered in embroidered bees. Critically, the shirt and waistcoat’s appearance in Season 2 marks a turning point in the second Bridgerton son’s relationship to his art.
Being the second son of a wealthy family in the Regency era means two things. One: barring some catastrophe, you’re not getting an equal inheritance to your elder brother. And two: you have more freedom to pursue your own desires and ambitions because you aren’t nearly as beholden to your family name.
In Bridgerton Season 1, we watched Benedict Bridgerton take this second point and run with it. After befriending a professional artist, Benedict was drawn into a hedonistic, bohemian lifestyle — one he largely seems to have left behind at the start of Season 2.
Leave it to the bee to get Benedict back into the artistic swing of things.
When the bee shows back up on Benedict’s clothing, he’s high as a kite at a family dinner, thanks to some herbal refreshments Colin’s brought back from the continent. Later, Benedict gets down and dirty with his artwork, painting with his hands. Just as he’s emphasizing to anyone who will listen that he’s going to pursue his art his way, a letter arrives: He’s been accepted to the Royal Academy of Art.
Based on what we know of Edmund Bridgerton, it’s highly likely he would have supported Benedict in his artistic pursuits. Anthony seems to think so, too, because we later learn that he bought Benedict’s way into the Royal Academy — not particularly shocking at a time when you could purchase a military rank for your son. The series has already made it clear that Anthony’s very devoted to carrying out his father’s wishes for their family, so it’s no huge stretch to say that the bees could indicate the late Lord Bridgerton’s continuing influence, at least where Benedict is concerned.
Eloise Bridgerton’s Eligibility
The bees don’t spend too much time on the younger Bridgerton siblings, but one did make an appearance in Eloise’s ensemble during Bridgerton Season 1. When she dresses for her older sister’s wedding reception, Eloise wears a bee hairpin, which could be meant to signify “that she's next in line to get married,” as Q. V. Hough at Screen Rant points out.
Although Eloise isn’t the next Bridgerton sibling after Daphne to marry — she doesn’t tie the knot until the fifth book, To Sir Phillip, With Love — she is the next daughter to make her debut on the marriage market. As much as Eloise might hate being out, being the eldest of Lady Violet’s unmarried daughters entitles her to a few perks in the image-conscious ton. Namely, she’s now styled as “Miss Bridgerton” — rather than “Miss Eloise,” as she would have been known before Daphne became the Duchess of Hastings.
Kate Sharma’s Future
The bees really turned out for Kate Sharma in Bridgerton Season 2. While Eloise, a Bridgerton by birth, has only been seen wearing bee accessories on the one occasion (mentioned above), a large portion of Kate’s colorful wardrobe seems to be devoted to abstract, bee-shaped patterns and designs. She wears bee-shaped jewelry when she and her sister attend the races and is later seen wearing a frock with what appear to be stylized bees incorporated into the design. A different set of bee jewelry appears after Edwina and Anthony’s disastrous almost-wedding, when Kate finally gets the chance to discuss her relationship with Viscount Bridgerton without her sister panicking.
Kate’s relationship with Bridgerton’s bee imagery extends beyond her own wardrobe, however. Benedict wears his bee waistcoat to the family dinner at which Anthony bails out of proposing to Edwina — a move his more suspicious relatives take as evidence that his affections lie elsewhere.
The Bridgerton Family’s Harmony
Although the bees’ presence doesn’t automatically mean that all’s right in this Regency world, they do seem to show up whenever the Bridgertons are at peace with one another. As was the case in Season 1, the final episode of Bridgerton Season 2 features a friendly bee, which flies up as Anthony and his siblings gather with his new bride to play another ultra-competitive game of pell mell.
A better example, however, may be the Florentine bee that graces the dance floor at Lady Violet’s ball in Season 2.
Edwina and Anthony’s broken engagement infuriates the ton, who ice out the Bridgertons, Sharmas, and even Lady Danbury in the aftermath. To prove that there is no bad blood between her family and Lady Danbury’s sponsees — although there is, and quite a bit of it, at least as far as Edwina is concerned — Lady Violet hosts a ball to show their wealthy peers that everything is still hunky-dory. To complete the look, the Bridgertons have a bee-shaped Florentine design added to their dance floor.
Even though Lady Violet’s plan backfires spectacularly, as no one from the ton attends, what began as a lavish ball turns into an intimate gathering. It’s a time when a lot of old wounds begin to heal, and it all starts with some friendly dancing around the series’ largest bee to date.