A Light Bee is a small hologram projector that projects hologramatic recreations of the dead, and which contain the personalities of the deceased crew members. It buzzed around inside the projection like a bee, hence the name of the device. The inner workings of the device resemble a long, tangled bunch of party popper string when configured for soft light, and a small, sleek-looking electronic device when configured for hard light.
The small physical presence of the light bee allows holograms to sit down on chairs and lie down on a bed and allows them to be carried when necessary, for example in the episode "Meltdown", when Rimmer needed to be held in order to be transported via the Matter Paddle with Kryten.
It can be traced in order to facilitate rescue and upgraded easily, as Legion did when he installed the Hard Light Drive, and it is both waterproof and resistant to stomach acid, as demonstrated by Dave Lister when he ate Rimmer's light bee, which may have implied that he knew this beforehand.
Kryten first described Rimmer's light bee when the boys from the Dwarf used the Matter Paddle to teleport to Waxworld. Because Rimmer was unable to touch the paddle, Kryten instead held Rimmer's light bee so they could scout ahead to see if the planet had a breathable atmosphere. When the light bee's projector was turned off, Rimmer was still able to speak in a mouse-like voice. After Rimmer detained Lister and The Cat and wiped out the entire population of the planet, Lister swallowed Rimmer's light bee, commenting that he'll come out in "a couple of days", even planning on eating a curry (implying that the light bee is waterproof and can withstand stomach acid). ("Meltdown")
Kryten was seen thawing out Rimmer's light bee (which was apparently frozen for the past two centuries) in a cooking pot, then placing it on the floor in order to restart Rimmer. It was later seen again when Rimmer ran out of power. ("Psirens")
The hologram version of Ace Rimmer is last seen in the form of his light bee, which is sent off in a little pod to an entire graveyard of, presumably, other Ace light bees or cremated ashes, forming the ring of a planet. ("Stoke Me a Clipper")
In order to force a reluctant Rimmer into going through the dimension portal, Katerina Bartokovsky uses a holo-remote to force his light bee into it, causing it to ricochet around the television store on the other side. ("Back to Earth: Part 2")
Rimmer's light bee can be seen for a brief second when The Creator shoots him and the others in his plan for their end. (RD: Back To Earth, Part Three)
After discovering the Iron Star, the crew were able to upgrade Rimmer's light bee to 'diamond light', which allowed him to convert other objects to soft light and move at rapid speeds, but his light bee suffered a power shortage as they performed the upgrade without carrying out safety checks. Kryten was able to recharge Rimmer's batteries with his own when the crew needed the power of diamond light to escape the feral Cat Rodon, but Rimmer sacrificed the chance to regain diamond light to restore Kryten.
Episodes Featuring Light Bees
- The Inquisitor
- Demons & Angels
- Stoke Me a Clipper
- Back to Earth, Part Two
- Back To Earth, Part Three
- The Promised Land
Prior to introducing Rimmer's light-bee in the Series IV episode "Meltdown", it was unclear how Rimmer was able to leave Red Dwarf. In "Thanks for the Memory", Rimmer celebrates his deathday off-ship inside a Hologram Projection Cage.
In other instances he leaves the ship without difficulty, such when he goes in Blue Midget and boards the Nova 5 in the Series II episode "Kryten" or walks around the backwards Earth in the Series III episode "Backwards", making it seem likely that he had access to a light-bee long before it was actually mentioned on the show.
Considering the various other changes that occurred 'off-screen' between "Parallel Universe" and "Backwards" (see the events of "Dad") it seems likely that another unchronicled discovery was the light bee being created or discovered, allowing Rimmer greater freedom from the ship where he was previously confined to pre-fitted environments (similar to how the Doctor from Star Trek: Voyager was confined to sickbay and the holodecks until he received his mobile emitter, although Red Dwarf aired years earlier), and making the Hologram Simulation Suite redundant. This is supported by the events of "M-Corp", where Lister is the only member of the crew affected by a virus that renders him unable to perceive anything not created by M-Corp after they bought out the Jupiter Mining Corporation, as Rimmer would likely have also been affected if his light bee was part of the ship's original holographic projection equipment (Kryten was built by DivaDroid International, Holly is currently offline, and Cat is essentially a civilian).
It also appears that the Light Bee now stores Rimmer's consciousness or data. The Inquisitor was able to effectively 'kill' Rimmer by damaging his Light Bee, and High Rimmer was killed by his Light Bee being crushed by Lister. However, the earlier appearances of holograms seemed to suggest that their consciousnesses were remotely stored in discs which were placed inside projection boxes, located inside Red Dwarf's Hologram Simulation Suite. However, the fact that Rimmer was able to be influenced by a link to the Hologram Simulation Suite in order to cure him of the holovirus shows that Rimmer's Light Bee can still be influenced by the systems on Red Dwarf.
Rimmer can apparently alternate between being projected via remote and being projected via light bee. In "Entangled", he is reverted to soft-light after Kryten programs a remote control to change Rimmer's physical state so that he can walk through a door and open it from the other side, but if he was being projected by the light bee it should have been impossible for him to go through anything.