The Bears and the Bees
Welcome to Beck’s Honey Farm. We reckon y’all are gonna have a mighty fine time helping out with the beekeeping. You’ll find all sorts of sweet-smellin’ flowers that them bees can’t resist.
Mind yourself though, there’s a small family of honey-grubbin’ bears in these parts that are always looking for a sweet treat. Still, it’s a pleasant place to bee as long as you bear the occasional sting.
In The Bears and the Bees, your goal is to go out first by playing all the cards in your hand by connecting them to the hive you’ll be building together. To place a card, you must connect it with 2 or more cards already in play by matching the colors on all the sides that touch.
Tally points for any cards left in your hand at the end of each round. At the end of 3 rounds, the beekeeper with the lowest score will be crowned the Queen Bee. Buzzah!
Short on time? Just play a single round and whoever goes out first, wins. Remaining players can continue to play to compete for second and third place.
Before we get into setup, it’s important you understand the different types of cards you’ll be playing with in the field.
Queen Bee (1): The Queen is the center of the hive. All of her sides are honey, which is wild. Special cards (Drones, Worker Bees, Flowers, and Bears) must not connect with the Queen’s sides.
Honeycombs (70): Honeycombs are the most common cards. The colors on their edges represent the 5 different kinds of Flowers you’ll find in the deck. These are the only cards that may connect with the Queen’s sides.
Drones (10): Half of the 6 sides of a drone card are honey (wild), and the other half are a single color. There are 2 cards of each of the 5 colors in the deck.
Worker Bees (15): Worker Bees have a different color on each side, including a wild side. After playing a Worker Bee, force one player of your choice to draw one card.
Flowers (5): After you place a Flower, force all other players to draw one card each. (Note: If playing with just 2 players, your opponent must draw two cards.)
Bears (3): After you play a Bear, give one player of your choice one card from your hand. Bears must connect with a honey side of a Drone or Worker Bee and at least one other card. The side(s) not touching honey, can connect with any color. After a bear is placed, no new cards can connect with it.
- The person stung most recently by a bee is the dealer.
- Place the Queen Bee at the center of the table.
- Place a set of player aids on either side of the table.
- Shuffle the deck (you may mix the cards on the table).
- For 2-3 players, deal 9 cards each. With 4+ players, deal 8. This will be your hand. You may look at these cards.
- The remaining cards will be the draw pile. Place this at the edge of your table, within easy reach.
The first card played for the round will come from the draw pile. Reveal the top card and follow the rules below:
- If it’s a Special Card, discard this card beside the deck and draw a new card. Repeat this, if necessary.
- If it's a Honeycomb, connect it at the top of the Queen.
On your turn, you may play one card. If you don’t play a card then you must either draw one card from the deck or discard one card from your hand and draw two cards.
To place a card, you must connect it with 2 or more cards already in play by matching the colors on all the sides that touch. Red connects with red, blue with blue, yellow with yellow, and so on. Honey sides (wild) are the exception, as they can pair with any other color.
When you play a card that connects with 3 or more other cards, you’ll earn a bonus play, which allows you to play a second card. If the second you play also connects with 3 or more cards, you’ll earn another bonus play. You can string together bonus plays for as long as you are able to.
The Bears are the only cards that cannot earn bonus plays. (No rewards for honey thieves.)
The Buzz Rule
Players are taking their sweet time? You can implement this optional rule to speed things along.
How it works: If you’re taking forever on your turn, another player can start to buzz, like a bee. Others can join in when they agree.
Once every player is buzzing, your turn ends. Be sure to draw if you’ve yet to play a card.
The first person to play the final card in their hand goes out, immediately ending the round. They score no points. All other players receive points for the cards left in their hands, as follows:
5 Points: Honeycombs
10 Points: Drones, Worker Bees, and Flowers
15 Points: Bears
After scores are recorded, the player who went first in the previous round becomes the new dealer. Gather all the cards, except for the Queen Bee, and mix them up. Then, deal everyone a new hand and begin a new round.
At the end of 3 rounds, the player with the lowest total score is crowned the Queen Bee and is admired by all for their sweet victory!
Beekeepers Buzz: In the event of a tie, the youngest tied player wins. Age grants wisdom, youth grants spoiling.
Once you’ve got the basic rules down, you can add in these advanced rules that increase strategy and skill. They’re best suited for ages 10+. It’s up to you whether you incorporate all of the advanced rules or just some of them.
In the normal rules, you can only earn one bonus play with each card you place touching 3 or more cards.
With Added Bonuses, with each additional side you connect, beyond 3, you’ll earn an additional bonus play.
Connect with 4 cards? You'll earn 2 bonus plays. 5 cards? You’ll earn 3. If you manage to play any card (except a Bear) that connects on all 6 sides, discard your hand and end the round!
One more thing to note. Bonus plays can add up during your turn.
When you play a Worker Bee or Flower, the more sides connect, the more cards other players are forced to draw.
Worker Bees: For each additional side you connect a Worker Bee with, beyond 2, one more card will have to be drawn by someone else. If 2 or more cards need to be drawn, you can force one player to take them all, or divide them between multiple players. Sharing is caring!
Flowers: The same principle applies to the Flowers. For each additional side you connect a flower with, beyond 2, one more card will have to be drawn by all other players.
With this rule in effect, each player, by default, may place 2 cards each turn, instead of 1. The second card is called your Connected Play, which is different from a bonus play. As the name implies, to place a second card, it must connect with the first card you played on that turn.
- You may not use a Connected Play on your first turn.
- If you intend to use your connected play, you must do so before taking any bonus plays earned by your first card.