In Blade Runner 2049, Officer K (Ryan Gosling) inserts his hand into a bee hive, and pulls it out covered with bees. Did they sting him, but he just doesn't react to pain? Or did the bees not sting him, and why?
He seems to react to pain whenever the movie sees it fit for him to appear to be suffering. Many times he got punched or smashed through a wall or stabbed without a flicker or grimace of pain, not even a flinch, other times he reacted to gunshots with distinct pain - mostly no reaction, though. Incidentally, I think the bees didn't sting him, and so this is just a tangentially related remark.– Ghoti and ChipsOct 9, 2017 at 19:28
Bees sting in response to a perceived threat. He's never seen a bee before (the director has said so) so he's curious but not threatening. Also, it's a callback to the original movie when Rachel says she would kill a wasp on her arm.– Paulie_DOct 9, 2017 at 19:31
@Paulie_D Rachael* And, yes, the wasp throwback was what I immediately thought of in the cinema, too. The significance of the bees has been asked already, though, and isn't what this question is about. The first half of your comment carries more relevance.– Ghoti and ChipsOct 9, 2017 at 20:11
Maybe its just meant as another reminder that while he seems so human, he is in fact a replicant. Kind of like the scene with him and Joi in the rain how its very intimate and emotional but then we're pulled out of it when she is paused by an incoming message.– sanpacoOct 9, 2017 at 21:27
1Based on these comments, I now have another perspective: Since bees only sting you if you hurt or threaten them, perhaps this scene is showing that Officer K has a peaceful nature and is ordinarily in harmony with other living creatures. It's only his job that requires him to be violent.– BrettFromLAOct 10, 2017 at 20:02
Bees aren't that harmful.
From many apiculture websites, as longs as you're calm and not a threat:
Most danger is avoided by working slowly and carefully and wearing the appropriate protective gear. Also, reacting suddenly to stings around the head entices more bees to sting. Bees dislike dark, woolly, or sweaty materials, so wear clean, light-colored, cotton coveralls or a long-sleeved shirt and full-length pants. Many beekeepers are toughened enough to tolerate a few stings on the hands so they often do not wear gloves, which are slightly cumbersome.
In the same lines:
Once you get used to handling them and realize that none of them wants to sting you (after all, they die if they sting), you will find opening a beehive to be exciting, interesting, and even relaxing. The bees teach you how to act— be slow, calm, careful, and respectful. If you are careful not to crush bees (the primary cause of stinging) and handle them gently and with the proper use of your tools and protective gear, you will only get an occasional sting.
This scene represents many things. First, K is witnessing a bee for the first time. I couldn't find a quote for this, I'm taking this from Paulie_D's comment. He might not know bees can sting him, or he might just be admiring this new creature.
Then, the bees represent the world healing and recovering from the climate holocaust.
How did you decide that he would come across bees?
There are a lot of problems with bees in the world right now. They are disappearing, so the fact that here you can see those creatures still alive and still present, was for me like a little spark of hope in this dystopian universe.
The scene symbolizes how K has a very calm and gentle nature, where he doesn't harm or destroy things he has never seen before. He gently observes and learns from them. This contrasts with the theme of the movie, where the Wallace corporation wants to find the new baby Replicant and dissect him immediately to uncover its secrets.
Though sticking your hand into their hive might certainly be perceived as a threat (it does in the wild). Then again, maybe trained bees are used to that?– WaltOct 17, 2017 at 14:19
@Walt Yeah, these links are mostly for apiculture, not wild hives Oct 17, 2017 at 14:26
Although K is very slow, calm, and gentle, I'm still dubious about how safe bees are. Your second quoted section ends by saying that if you follow all these precautions, "you will only get an occasional sting." One sting is more than enough for me! Oct 17, 2017 at 16:15