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Maya the Bee: Wikis


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Maya and friends.

The Adventures of Maya the Bee (German: Die Biene Maja) is a German book, comic book series and animated television series, first written by Waldemar Bonsels and published in 1912. The series has been published also in many other languages besides German.

The stories revolve around a little bee named Maya and her friends Willy the bee, Flip the grasshopper, Mrs. Cassandra (Maya's teacher), and many other insects. The book depicts Maya's development from an adventurous youngster to a responsible adult member of bee society.


Film & TV series

Wolfram Junghans, a German photographer, directed a live-action full-length film version of the story in 1924. It is considered to be the first full-length film to star live insects. The film was restored in 2005 by the Finnish Film Archive together with the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, and screened in Hamburg and Helsinki.

Perhaps the most popular and widely known adaptation of the story is the anime television series みつばちマーヤの冒険 (Mitsubachi Māya no Bōken, "The Adventures of Maya the Honeybee"). Originally aired on Japanese TV in 1975, the anime has been dubbed into 42 languages[1] and screened on television in various territories, including the Netherlands, Australia, Germany, the United States, South Africa, Portugal, Canada, Belgium, France, Latin America, Israel, Iran, Italy, Greece, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Bosnia, Slovakia, Spain, Serbia, Finland, Poland, Croatia, Hungary, Russia, Turkey, Lebanon as "Zena", and Iran as "Nikoo" (نیکو). The Japanese TV series was preceded by Tokyo Kodomo Club's musical play based on the short story, presented as Mitsubachi Māya ("Maya the Honeybee"), distributed on a LP album.

The original theme was composed by Karel Svoboda and sung by Karel Gott in German, Czech and Slovak version.


The original book of Bonsels is actually quite short, less than 200 pages. The storyline is centered on the relation of Maya and her society, the adventures serving to educate the young Maya. In the TV-series, on the other hand, the relative importance of the adventures is increased.

Maya is a bee born in a bee hive during internal unrest: the hive is dividing itself into two new colonies. Maya is raised by her teacher, Mrs. Cassandra. Despite Mrs. Cassandra's warnings, Maya is imbued with desire to explore the wide world and commits the unforgivable crime of leaving the hive. During her adventures, Maya, now in exile, befriends other insects and braves dangers with them. In the climax of the book, Maya is taken prisoner by hornets, the worst enemies of the bees.

Prisoner of the hornets, Maya learns of a hornet plan to attack her native hive. Maya is faced with the decision to either return to hive and suffer her due punishment, saving the hive, or leaving the plan unannounced, saving herself but destroying the hive. As may be expected, Maya, after severe pondering, makes the decision to return. In the hive, she announces the coming attack and is, totally unexpectedly, pardoned. The forewarned bees triumph over the hornet attack force. Maya, now a heroine of the hive, becomes a teacher, like Mrs. Cassandra and shares her experiences and wisdom with the future generation.

Analysis of the book

The original book from 1912 was a fable with a political message, analogously to Jean de La Fontaine's or Ivan Krylov's work. In many ways, the fable lauds German nationalism. Maya represents the ideal citizen, and the beehive represents a well-organized militarist society. It has also elements of nationalism, racism and militarism. Maya gets angry in two instances. First, a grasshopper fails to distinguish between bees and wasps. Maya's vicious verbal attack includes calling the wasps "a useless gang of bandits" [Räubergeschlecht] that have no "home or faith" [Heimat und Glauben]. Second, a fly calls Maya an idiot, which prompts Maya to shout that she's going to teach "respect for bees" and to threaten the fly with her stinger. This is analyzed such that respect is based on the threat of violence. Collectivism is also a theme. Maya's independent opinion and departure from the beehive is seen as reproachable, but it is atoned by her warning of the hornets' attack. This show of loyalty restores her position in the society. In the hornet attack part of the story, the bees' will to defend and the heroic deaths of bee officers is glorified, often in overtly militarist tones.[1]

Main characters

  • Maya (Bee)
  • Willi (Drone, Maya's best friend. Lazy, good-natured)
  • Flip (Grasshopper. A wise friend of Maya and Willi)
  • Kurt (Dungbeetle who likes to be a "rose-beetle")
  • Puck (Fly)
  • Kassandra (Bee, Teacher at the Bee-School)
  • Thekla (cross spider)


Maya the Bee, also served as the basis for a Croatian children's opera written by a famous Croatian composer Bruno Bjelinski in 1963. It was recently staged in Villach, Austria as part of their Carinthian Summer Music Festival[2]. The uniqueness of the performance was in the fact that the "bees" were played by children and not professional opera singers as it is usually the case.[3]

Video games

Developed by Crawfish, published by Acclaim.

Developed by Neon Studios, published by Acclaim.

  • Maya the Bee and Friends (mobile – 2006)[5]

Developed by Kiloo and co-published by Plan-B Media.

Developed by Shin'en Multimedia, published by Acclaim.

Developed by Shin'en Multimedia, published by Midway.

Developed by Independent Arts Software GmbH, published by Midway (based on previous work by Shin'en).


A lot of companies contributed worldwide to the success of the character by producing and selling merchandising. Most of them were drawn between 1976 and 1986 by the French licensed characters specialist André Roche. Works have included motifs for textiles and porcelain, and games, including the a campaign for Kinder Surprise Eggs.


External links

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