Bees repesent a harsh situation and how Idgie is capable of taming them. Ruth refers to Idgie as "A bee charmer" Flagg 86 and how it is extremely rare and never seen. Later in the book readers learn about the chaos of the town involing the KKK, and Idgie gets in trouble with the in town officer for feeding coloured people out the back of the restaraunt which is never heard of during this time period. However she blows off the threats thrown at her and continues anyways. She charms the bees the same way as she charms the law and does the unthinkable which is never seen before.
That is a great point Angela, and one that I've not really thought of before. She is a charmer - and she can charm herself out of the most horrible situations (wait until the latter portion of the novel, you'll see that she charms her way out of prison too - Spoiler alert!)
The bees in the book could symbolize Idgie's behavior from her family's perspective. Because she is a lesbian and same gender relationships weren't common and/or accepted at the time, it metaphorically stung her family. Like a bee sting, the wound heals, and the family accepts her decision in relationship choices and accept Idgie for who she is and what she does.
A very insightful comment! I think that less than her lesbian relationship, Idgie's behaviour would "sting" her family (they are so reliant upon one another yet she is often isolated from them). While Idgie exhibits the traits that she has inherited from her family (the warmth, the defense of people who are weaker than her) she often chooses to be separated from them. In a way, Ruth is the one who brings her back into the fold (the bee tamer - hmmm).
bees symbolize, peace and connection/ functionality. For example every bee is needed to create a functional colony and without a key link the colony would plummet into chaos. This idea is paralleled in fried green tomatoes when Idgie plummets into a fit of rage after Ruth's departure. Additionally bees symbolize peace as Idgie is covered in bees without getting stung.
bees may also symbolize loyalty as Ruth and Idgie are loyal to one another. This is paralleled because bees are only loyal to their queen. This is shown as Idgie is covered in bees and isn't stung
I feel that the bees are a symbol of caring for another person and love between Ruth and Idgie because at this point in the story, the two girls were picnicking near the beehive and this is when Ruth came to realize that she loved Idgie. She could not even begin to imagine what it would be like if something bad had happened to Idgie when the bees swarmed her. Also, Ruth begins to cry and Idgie comforts her in saying that she does it all the time and not to worry about it.