"The Queen Bee" (German: "Die Bienenkönigin") is a German fairy tale. It is included in Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales), the anthology of German folktales compiled by the Brothers Grimm, from the 1819 second edition onward.
The story's protagonist is a prince with dwarfism. He is the youngest of three brothers. Unlike his two elder brothers, the dwarf prince is very kind to animals. The three princes are set tasks that need to be completed so that the spell can be lifted from an enchanted castle. The two elder princes fail to complete those tasks. Thanks to the help he receives from animals whose lives he saved, the dwarf prince succeeds.
Two princes go out into the world to seek their fortune. They soon spend all of their money and are too ashamed to return home. Their younger brother, who is a dwarf, then sets out to find them. The two elder brothers reluctantly allow the dwarf prince to travel with them.
The three brothers pass by an anthill. The two elder princes want to destroy it just to see the ants run out of it in a panic. The dwarf says he will not allow his brothers to harm the ants. Later, the three brothers pass by a lake with ducks on it. The two elder brothers want to kill and eat two of the ducks. The dwarf says he will not allow his brothers to harm any of the ducks. Later still, the three brothers pass by a hollow tree which is full of honey because some bees have made their hive there. The two elder brothers want to set fire to the tree in order to kill the bees and take their honey. The dwarf says that he will not allow his brothers to harm the bees.
The three brothers come to a castle that is later revealed to be under a magic spell. The three princesses who live in the castle are in an enchanted sleep. All of the castle's other inhabitants have been turned to stone, apart from one old man. The old man shows the first prince a stone tablet. According to the tablet, the spell can be lifted from the castle if the prince can first find all of the princesses' thousand pearls that are hidden under the moss in the forest. The prince is informed that if he cannot find all of the pearls before sunset, he will be turned to marble. The first prince fails to find all the pearls and turns to stone. The following day, the second prince tries and fails to find all of the thousand pearls and is also turned into a statue.
The dwarf prince goes out to find the thousand pearls. To thank him for not letting his brothers destroy their anthill, the ants gather up all of the princesses' hidden pearls. The dwarf prince is then informed that he has to get the key to the princesses' bedchamber from the bottom of the lake. To thank him for saving their lives, ducks retrieve the key for the dwarf prince. The dwarf prince is then informed that he has to identify which of the three princesses, who all look alike, is the youngest. He is told that the eldest has eaten sugar, the second has eaten syrup and the third has eaten honey. To thank him for stopping his brothers from destroying her hive, the queen bee lets the dwarf prince know which princess is the youngest by sitting on the lips of the princess who has eaten honey.
After the dwarf prince correctly identifies the youngest princess, the spell is lifted from the castle. All of the people who had been turned into stone, including the dwarf prince's two brothers, are restored to life. The dwarf prince marries the youngest princess and eventually inherits his father's kingdom.