Romance readers, even ones who are not into historical period fantasies, know who the Bridgertons are. Author Julia Quinn’s novels about them are some of the best-selling romances of the 21st century. Now, the Netflix show based on these books caters to that crowd, with more than a few cute references peppered throughout the eight-episode first season. But the most significant one viewers can’t miss are the bees. For the uninitiated, what’s with the bees in Bridgerton? It’s an in-book reference and a potential hint for Season 2.
Warning: Spoilers for both Bridgerton Season 1 and the first few Bridgerton novels follow. When the Bridgerton family is introduced, there are nine members of the clan. The dowager viscountess, Lady Violet Bridgerton, is a widow with eight children: Anthony, Benedict, Colin, Daphne, Eloise, Francesca, Gregory, and Hyacinth. Violet and her late husband, Edmund, loved each other very much (and evidently weren’t that into birth control).
That Edmund and Violet constantly had children throughout their entire marriage is confirmed when Daphne and Eloise talk about the birth of Hyacinth, the last of the Bridgerton set, in Season 1. She was born only a few weeks after the passing of the late Viscount and nearly took their mother’s life as she made her way into the world (not her fault, obvi).
But here’s the thing: No one mentions how the Viscount died — not on the show, at least…
What Netflix’s Bridgerton Season 1 is leaving out (and what is detailed in the second Bridgerton novel, The Viscount Who Loved Me) is that Viscount Edmund Bridgerton, a healthy, hale, hearty man in the prime of his life at 38, was cut down by a bee sting.
Anaphylactic responses were a medical mystery in the Regency era, so no one knew what to make of Edmund’s death, but once could surmise that it may run in the family. Edmund’s younger brother also died suddenly while out in the garden a few years earlier, though no one thought to check for bee stings at the time.
In the books, Edmund’s death deeply affected the eldest Bridgerton sons, Anthony and Benedict, who were 18 and 16, respectively, when their father passed away. Though the show doesn’t touch on it in the first season, the book version of Anthony harbors an absolute terror of bees, believing he will die just as his father did. Benedict is also wary of bees, though not to the point of trauma like his brother. The show has him wearing embroidered bees on his collar, a sly nod to the show’s source material that Quinn’s fans will instantly recognize.
And then, of course, there’s the bee at the very end of Season 1, which appears just after Daphne gives birth to her first child. Anyone who wants to know exactly what this symbolizes can read The Viscount Who Loved Me, the second book in the Bridgerton series, to find out. But for those who would rather see it played out on the Netflix series, let’s hope a potential second season of Bridgerton keeps exploring this bee narrative.
Bridgerton Season 1 is on Netflix now.
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