Stans are now an integral part of the pop music landscape. These devoted disciples tirelessly promote their idols online and keep the ever-present haters in check. Where would Justin be without his Beliebers? What would Mariah do without her loyal Lambs? While most fan armies have been mobilized by record labels to start trending topics and coordinate radio requests, one group roams the wild plains of Twitter, snatching wigs and dragging bitches at will. Welcome to the BeyHive.
Beyonce rules the most notorious and, as I’ve come to learn, misunderstood fiefdom on the net. Not only do the Beys have their own unique lexicon (more about that later), their sting is legendary. A run in with the BeyHive reportedly made one Little Monster delete his Twitter and beg Lady Gaga for a ride in the Born Brave Bus to recover. But there’s more to this fascinating bunch than strange nicknames and crushing insults.
To get a better understanding of these feared online predators, I put my years of Beyonce fandom to good use and entered the Hive (i.e. logged into Twitter) with an open mind and respectful attitude. What I discovered is a community of hilarious and highly creative fans who love their idol and will do anything to defend her honor — including dragging you to the brink of insanity to prove a point.
Now it’s time for a quick vocab lesson. If you’re going to understand the inner-workings of this peculiar species, you’ll need to wrap your head around the following terms:
1. To Shade. When someone insults you, they throw shade. For example:
“The shade is thick.” = “There are quite a few uncouth people on my timeline right now.”
“I just got shaded by a Barb!” = “I was just rudely insulted by a Nicki Minaj fan!”
2. Wigs. These are incredibly important to the Hive — both literally and figuratively. A wig refers to someone’s reputation and credibility. So “snatching a wig” is the same is robbing someone of all self respect. This is a very popular hobby in the Hive.
3. Stans. This refers to enthusiastic fans. You can use the word as a noun or a verb. For example:
“I’m a Bey stan.” = “I’m a devoted Beyonce fan.”
“I stan hard for IASF.” = “I enjoy I Am… Sasha Fierce very much.”
4. To Read. If someone corrects you or counters a claim you made with indisputable facts, you just got read. This is considered to be a massive loss of face.
5. To Drag. Dragging haters (known as “wasps”) and other artists (often referred to as “lessors”) is the BeyHive’s favorite pastime. The meaning is similar to “shade” but worse. There’s an element of wit to the former, while the latter is an all-out attack.
6. Receipts. These are stats confirming Beyonce’s superiority. For example, the Hive never grows tired of mentioning the diva’s 16 Grammys.
7. Tea. This refers to gossip.
What really sets the BeyHive apart from other fan armies is the unprecedented level of commitment and the elaborate structure. “The Digger Beys are excellent at delivering receipts,” explains Keyshia (@KilliousBey) on Twitter) 20, from South Florida. “The Bumble Beys know all the tea, and my favorite, the Killer Beys, defend the Queen’s name and honor.”
Miami’s Jabari (@Beyonce_Miami), 20, adds, “Beyonce approved these names for us and other stans just don’t have that” — referring to the terminology GQ’s Sexiest Woman Of The Century outlined on her website.
It might sound like a cult — a dysfunctional family is perhaps be a better description — but it doesn’t take long to get your head around the lingo, and there is an explanation for the Hive’s fanaticism. Unlike other superstars, the Super Bowl performer only recently embraced social media. While other fan armies were somewhat contained by their faves, the Hive was basically a lawless entity until a year ago. With their Queen not willing to address criticism, the Beys stepped in and did it for her.
“No other stanbase drags as ruthlessly and as mercilessly as the BeyHive,” confirms Madison (@KingBeyonceStan), 21, from New York. “When defending Beyonce, I have fact and common sense on my side. I’m not wishing death on the person I’m arguing with.”
Matthew (@BeyoncesHubby), 20, from Fort Washington, New York, takes a slightly different approach: “When extremely irritating people come for Beyonce, I politely ask them to kill themselves. I cross the line on a regular basis and sometimes I do regret it, It’s easy to do from behind a computer screen.”
Keyshia is less apologetic. “I will drag my mom for Beyonce,” she admits.
This fierce sense of responsibility and loyalty makes the proud keepers of King B’s good name a formidable enemy. Not only are they incredibly adept and creative at putting haters in check, they never forget and are incredibly suspicious of anyone judged to be eyeing Bey’s urban-pop crown. This puts Rihanna and her Navy at the top of the Hive’s hitlist.
“Rihanna is enemy number one because people have the audacity to compare the industry’s biggest gimmick to Beyonce,” says a furious Olivia (@NaughtyBey_), 20, from Houston.
But the list doesn’t end there. The Hive has running feuds with most R&B divas, their fans and many commentators and media personalities.
“When Wendy Williams’ oak-tree-lookin’ ass said Beyonce was illiterate, I dragged her until the bark fell off,” brags Jabari. “The worst stans are the ones whose fave has become irrelevant due to the slayage of Queen Bey. That includes Ciara, Ashanti, Amerie and Keri Hilson.”
Keri Hilson dragged by a Bey stan via a YouTube video
Matthew’s list is also long: “When it comes to delusion, the Rihanna Navy take the cake. The most psychotic fans are the Beliebers, and the Barbs are ratchet as hell!”
While the Killer Beys make the loudest hum, many members of the Hive take a softer approach. “There is no worse fanbase in my opinion. There is always going to be a troll in every fanbase making others look bad,” explains Nathalia (@VoiceTooSmooth), 19, from New York. “As long as you respect my fave, I’ll respect yours. It’s that simple.”
Terriya (@ThugLifeTerri), 16, from Birmingham, Alabama takes a similar approach: “I make friends with other stans. I support their artists and they support mine.”
With all the feuds and fighting, you could be mistaken for thinking the Hive is buzzing with social outcasts on Twitter. Not so. The Beys can count on two groups of supporters. “Our only allies are Mariah Carey’s Lambs and the Little Monsters,” Jabari admits. But even that alliance isn’t set in stone.
“The Monsters are our only true ally. Hopefully that bond doesn’t break due to some messy hoe in either stanbase trolling for a retweet,” muses Matthew.
Apart from their willingness to enter into battle at the drop of a hat, the Hive has another unusal quirk. They have a rather unusual fetish for wigs. They will snatch yours faster than a bald drag queen if you cross them or, heaven forbid, place your fingers on Bey’s pristine hairpiece.
“Wigs are like thrones, or legacies placed upon one’s head, and you have to defend it with all of your talent or someone could come along and snatch it off your head — chemo style,” philosophizes Keyshia.
“Bey’s wig was personally laid on her scalp by Jesus himself. It’s unsnatchable,” declares Destiny (@SIMPLYDESTINY), 19 from New York. Olivia agrees and adds, “Zeus couldn’t snatch Bey’s wig if he tried. She’s past that point. She collects skulls.”
The importance of a good lacefront is also literal. “Wigs are just as important as music,” explains Matthew. “For most female artists, they define an era. I can go back and look at a pic of Bey in platinum blonde and curly hair and know that it was taken during the 4 era.”
In fact, if you think protecting the “Single Ladies” singer’s glorious wig sounds like a full-time job, you’d be right. Destiny views stanning as a calling rather than a choice. “I never stop. It’s a 24/7 thing for me,” she notes. “If someone says something bad about Bey, I’m always ready to sting.” A pause. She then adds ominously, “I don’t play that.”
Olivia agrees: “I stan for Mother in my sleep. I have a life outside of Bey, but my stanning never stops.”
These relentless worker Beys protect their Queen with a fortress built of honeycomb. This is the beautiful side of the Hive that the world doesn’t see. In addition to their unwavering loyalty and wit, the BeyHive tirelessly churns out funny pics and videos. One resourceful stan even recorded a theme song (below). This wild creativity has inspired Beyonce to blog about her magnificent fans and nurture their creative side by adding a gallery of their art to her website.
Theme song for the BeyHive — “Imma Bey Stan” courtesy of @muzikfreak247
Some Beys take this as a tacit approval of their online behavior. Others are not as convinced.
“I don’t think she would approve,” says Nathalia sadly. “I’m trying to do better but every now and then a bitch ass wasp needs to be read and clocked!”
Madison ponders, “In an interview she expressed her gratitude for our support but has asked us to tone it down. Would she approve? Probably not.”
Terriya sees it differently: “I honestly think Beyonce don’t care because she know we do it out of love. I know sometimes we take things too far but she still loves us. We’re all family at the end of the day.”
Do you consider yourself a Beyonce stan? Are you already tailgating ahead of her big performance at the Super Bowl this Sunday (February 3)? Let us know below, or by hitting us up on Facebook and Twitter!