Bzzz! Bzzz! Settle down bees!
Mary Frances Gibbons (also referred to as Mrs. Gibbons by the Honeybees) is the Honeybee troop leader and Portia's mom. Outside of the Honeybees, she is a Patty Faye Cosmetics representative. Her character is an archetype of the soccer mom.
Mrs. Gibbons blatantly plays favorites, often helping her daughter with unfair methods (i.e., bribing judges and making her objective in collecting badges easier compared to the other girls).
Mary Frances constantly spoils Portia, and conversely dislikes Bessie's determination. Whenever Bessie tries to earn a badge, Mary Frances makes it intentionally difficult for her, not wanting her daughter to be outshone by Bessie. Mrs. Gibbons is voiced by Sarah Thyre.
An advanced social climber, she is banking everything on her mall-pretty daughter. The New York Times described her as "striving," while The Washington Post stated she was "overbearing." She became a Troop Leader because Mary Frances plans one day to run for PTA President and she wanted to show how good she was with children. She forced Portia to join the Honeybees and considers the troop a mother-daughter bonding activity.
During troop meetings, MF shows blatant favoritism towards Portia and gets frustrated with Bessie because her Honeybee achievements constantly outshine Portia’s. She often helps Portia cheat to get a badge, and on occasion makes Bessie's attempt to earn a badge harder than it needs to be as an act of sabotage. In "To Bee or Not to Bee," Mary Frances is so sure her daughter will win brunch with Miriam Breedlove that she already paints "Congratulations Portia" on the wall before the contest even begins.
Mary Frances is also a certified Patty Faye Cosmetics (a parody of "Mary Kay" Cosmetics) representative and jumps at any time to push Patty Faye, one instance being towards Rainbow in "Body Rockers," assuming the latter's look was simply a phase. Her Patty Faye boss, Janeane, frequently urges Mary Frances to improve her sales lest she lose the company van ("The Apprentice"). Nickelodeon's website for the show, dated in 2008, hinted she took the job for its good pay as well as wanting to "improve" the looks of others.
She is most prominent in "The Apprentice," when she hires Bessie as her cosmetics apprentice to improve her Patty Faye sales and keep the company van but soon regrets this decision. After Bessie uses makeup as face paint, Janeane is impressed and gives Bessie Mary Frances' van, to the latter's shock.
Mrs. Gibbons seems to dislike violence, as in "Body Rockers" she wishes Rainbow would stop talking about white blood cells in such a "violent" way and wants to change the topic to something else. In two episodes ("Body Rockers" and "The Apprentice") she threatens to write "strong letters" against Rainbow and Bessie to the Discovertorium and Patty Faye, respectively.
Despite spoiling Portia, there are times where Mary Frances is rather careless with her, one example being her threatening Portia to stuff makeup products instead of Bessie if she doesn't stop complaining about Bessie being in their house ("The Apprentice"). However, she does genuinely care for her daughter, as in "Toot Toot" she tearfully runs after Portia when the latter stubs her toe and runs away.
She is a close friend of Anton St. Germain, having bribed him to let Portia win at the dog show ("So Happy Together"). However, their friendship appears to be conditional, as he mocks Portia's science experiment in "Artificial Unintelligence" when he believes she is not there. "Ten Little Honeybees" shows Mary Frances tries to keep a good front when Anton is around, as she tells her sons Richard and Dick Gibbons "don't embarrass me in front of Anton."
Mary Frances is a light-skinned woman who has red hair and blue eyes. She wears a light blue blouse with white trim, white boots and dark blue jeans, which have been described as "mom jeans." Being a cosmetics saleswoman, Mary Frances typically has on red lipstick, purple eye shadow and light pink earrings.
Portia is Mary Frances' daughter. She frequently spoils the girl, encouraging Portia's narcissism and helping her earn badges in unfair ways. One example is in the pilot episode ("So Happy Together") when she bribes the judge Anton to ensure Portia's win. She also paints "Congratulations Portia" on the wall before a contest even commences ("To Bee or Not to Bee").
Mary Frances will do anything to advance her daughter socially, proven by the fact she has entered her daughter in pageants ("Hive of Darkness"). Although Mary Frances usually goes along with Portia's demands, there are occasions when she stands up to her daughter. For example, in "The Apprentice," Portia complains about Bessie being in her bedroom, but Mary Frances convinces her to drop the subject when she points out Portia could do the work Bessie is doing instead. Overall, Mary Frances genuinely loves her daughter, as she cried "My baby!" when Portia hurt her toe and ran away in "Toot Toot."
Mary Frances is not at all fond of Bessie, harboring resentment towards her for always outdoing Portia when it comes to earning badges. In fact, she will occasionally make it intentionally difficult for Bessie to earn a badge ("So Happy Together") or try to convince her since she has so many, earning another wouldn't matter ("Doppelfinger"). She doesn't think highly of her, stating in "Something's Wrong With This Taffy": "I always knew she had a dark side."
She hires Bessie to be her cosmetics apprentice in "The Apprentice," though Bessie's zeal gives Mary Frances more than she bargained for and fires her. She later expels Bessie from the Honeybees in "Toot Toot" for "grievous flatulence," though reluctantly lets her come back when Bessie shows everyone the forgotten Toot Toot badge. Mary Frances often relies on Bessie for menial tasks, and is annoyed by Bessie's willingness to follow the rules constantly.
Anton St. Germain
Anton is shown to be a close confidante of Mary Frances. She bribes him in order to let Portia win the dog show in "So Happy Together" and the two are seen discussing Bessie's middle name over the phone in "Name Shame." Mary Frances tries to impress him, as she scolds her sons for "embarrassing" her in "Ten Little Honeybees." However, their friendship might be conditional, as Anton freely belittled Portia's science experiment in "Artificial Unintelligence" and Mary Frances states she paid Anton to host Portia's half-birthday at his house ("Ten Little Honeybees").
Penny's simplistic nature brings out Mary Frances' passive-aggressive tendencies. This entails looking at her blankly in "Something's Wrong With This Taffy" when Penny believes Santa Claus stole everyone's taffy, not Bessie. However, Mary Frances has also been seen playing along with Penny's actions and statements, telling her "Careful now, you don't want to fill up before dinner" when Penny eats glue ("The Apprentice").
Although Gwen is Portia's best friend, Mary Frances doesn't seem quite as fond of her as Portia is. She hastily drops Gwen off after it's learned she has the chicken pox ("Apoxalypse Now") and is disappointed in Gwen and the other Honeybees when they lose the Bee-athlon in "Dang it Feels Good to Be a Gamester."
Richard and Dick Gibbons
Mary Frances doesn't seem to like her sons as much as she does Portia, forcing them to act as her butlers for every want or need she requests. Portia threatens her brothers in "Ten Little Honeybees" that, if they don't blow Portia a half-balloon, neither of them will receive a slice of cake, per Mary Frances' orders. Mary Frances later apologizes on their behalf to Anton for making a mess in his home, even telling them "Don't embarrass me in front of Anton."
She and Ben only interact twice in the series. First, in "Beenedict Arnold," she remarks "Well, the Higgenbottom boy is deranged" after Ben creates a distraction and acts like a dog while Bessie rescues Happy. Later, in "Gorillas in the Midst," Ben masquerades as Bessie and Bessie pretends to be him. Mary Frances finds who she thinks is Bessie's personality change strange, but doesn't question it.
Mary Frances was shown to be disgusted by Millie and her turtle, Chester Turtleton, in "Hat Trick." She gave Millie a badge in order for her to stop talking about Chester. Later, in "Stuffed Happens," she and the Honeybees are surprised to find out it was Millie who framed Bessie for things she didn't do that led to Bessie's expulsion from the Honeybees.
In "Body Rockers," Mary Frances dislikes Rainbow, evident when she offered her cosmetic services once Rainbow was "done with [her] look." After Rainbow talks about bill and tax collectors, Mary Frances snarks "Surprise, surprise. The hippie doesn't like to pay taxes." Mary Frances urges Rainbow to discuss something "less violent" than the human body, only to be ignored by her. Finally, after Bessie and Penny escape from a model of the human body, Mary Frances threatens to write a "very strong letter" against her to the Discovertorium in addition to a dry cleaning bill.
- Main article: Mary Frances Gibbons/Appearances
- Main article: Mary Frances Gibbons/Gallery
- Her camper plays La Cucaracha as a car horn, as shown in "Bee Afraid."
- Is Jewish, as her niece Chelsea celebrates her Bat Mitzvah in "Bat Mitzvah Crashers."
- "The Apprentice" reveals the following:
- Mary Frances takes tennis lessons.
- Per Bessie, Mary Frances likes her coffee double caffeinated with extra foam.
- She does crossword puzzles and often eats gelato with her daughter.
- "Toot Toot" shows Mary Frances can expel a Honeybee from her troop should she commit a serious offense.
- As a young girl, Mrs. Gibbons was a Honeybee herself, as Portia bribes Bessie with her mother's badges in "Toot Toot." As Portia mentions her mother earned these badges during the 1980s, this would put Mary Frances' birth year sometime during the 1970s.
- "Something's Wrong With This Taffy" reveals she has eaten one and a half boxes of taffy every day for 20 years.
- The aforementioned episode shows she receives massage treatments at the local Massage Parlor.
- It is stated in "Dragonflies" that Mary Frances pays the Recreation Center monthly in order to keep the Honeybees' reservation.
- Enjoys the music of the Sugar Boys, in particular liking Tate ("Bee Plus One").
- In "Old Bee and the Sea," Mary Frances mentions feeling nauseous seeing people wear white after Labor Day.
- A closeup in "Gorillas in the Midst" reveals Mary Frances has freckles.
- Revealed in "Body Rockers." On storyboards, her name is spelled as "Mary-Frances," yet in "Toot Toot" it is shown without a hyphen.
- Bynum, Aaron H. (April 8, 2008). The Mighty B!. Animation Insider. Retrieved May 13, 2020. Archived via the Wayback Machine.
- Frey, Jennifer (April 26, 2008). 'Mighty B!': A Very Animated Heroine. The Washington Post. Retrieved July 7, 2020. Quote: "...and an overbearing mommy who will go to any lengths, or pay any amount of money, to make sure her darling daughter always reigns supreme."
- Perlmutter, David (May 4, 2018). The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows. Page 391. Rowman & Littlefield. International standard book number 9781538103746.
- Stewart, Susan (April 25, 2008). Animated Look at the Virtue of Keeping on Keeping On. The New York Times. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
- Cohen, Sherm (May 2010). The Start of Storyboard Week. Cartoon Snap (BlogSpot.com). Retrieved June 29, 2020. Quote: "In this episode, Mary-Frances (Portia’s mom) is under pressure to sell tons of her “Mary Kay” type of cosmetics."
- Gibbons residence, the home of Mary Frances