I have often said in this space that Donald Duck is at his best when he can have two things in a short. First, he has to be mean. Donald is an ill-tempered character and should always be portrayed as such. Not mean to the point of being unlikeable, but definitely mean. Second, he needs an adversary you can root for, not dislike. The opposition to Donald has to be a good character that is fun to watch, and gets mistreated by the duck. With Bee on the Beach, that formula works quite well.
Donald has crossed paths with a bee many times in his shorts, and production notes and writings of the time usually give them different names. As such, many refer to the bees Donald faces as Spike, to use a generic term. It applies greatly in most cases, because the bees tend to use their stingers as a spike into Donald’s rump most of the time. This is no exception. It all starts, though, because Donald is being mean.
When Spike tries to get his spot at the beach, Donald gets there and runs him over. Then Donald drops water and sand on him, and ignores Spike when he tries to protest. He puts him in a bottle and tries to get rid of him. It’s these sorts of activities that give the viewer license to enjoy the tortures that Spike puts Donald through in the rest of the short. That’s why the formula works so well.
Boy, does Spike torture him. After regaining his freedom from the bottle, Spike manages to track Donald down out in the ocean. For the next several minutes, he lets the air out of the raft Donald is floating on, first by taking the valve loose, then by puncturing it with his stinger. That leads to Donald zooming around the ocean and ending up right in the middle of a large grouping of sharks. Very unfortunate for a tasty duck, wouldn’t you say?
What I love about this short is it’s willing to bend the rules to allow Spike to do some very funny things. He goes underwater to cut the bottom out of Donald’s raft, and instead of drowning like most bees would, Spike manages to survive and thrive, coaxing a shark to attack Donald. It’s things like this that make the gags interesting, the conflict more fun and ultimately lead to Donald jumping around the ocean trying to avoid sharks. That is a sight to behold.