A Light Bee is a small hologram projector that projects hologramatic recreations of the dead, and which contain the personalities of the deceased crew members. It buzzed around inside the projection like a bee, hence the name of the device.
The small physical presence of the light bee allows holograms to sit down on chairs and lie down on a bed and allows them to be carried when necessary, for example in the episode "Meltdown", when Rimmer needed to be held in order to be transported via the Matter Paddle with Kryten.
It can be traced in order to facilitate rescue and upgraded easily, as Legion did when he installed the Hard Light Drive, and it is both waterproof and resistant to stomach acid, as demonstrated by Dave Lister when he ate Rimmer's light bee, which may have implied that he knew this beforehand.
Kryten first described Rimmer's light bee when the boys from the Dwarf used the Matter Paddle to teleport to Waxworld. Because Rimmer was unable to touch the paddle, Kryten instead held Rimmer's light bee so they could scout ahead to see if the planet had a breathable atmosphere. When the light bee's projector was turned off, Rimmer was still able to speak in a mouse-like voice. After Rimmer detained Lister and The Cat and wiped out the entire population of the planet, Lister swallowed Rimmer's light bee, commenting that he'll come out in "a couple of days", even planning on eating a curry (implying that the light bee is waterproof and can withstand stomach acid). ("Meltdown")
Kryten was seen thawing out Rimmer's light bee (which was apparently frozen for the past two centuries) in a cooking pot, then placing it on the floor in order to restart Rimmer. It was later seen again when Rimmer ran out of power. ("Psirens")
The hologram version of Ace Rimmer is last seen in the form of his light bee, which is sent off in a little pod to an entire graveyard of, presumably, other Ace light bees or cremated ashes, forming the ring of a planet. ("Stoke Me a Clipper")
In order to force a reluctant Rimmer into going through the dimension portal, Katerina Bartokovsky uses a holo-remote to force his light bee into it, causing it to ricochet around the television store on the other side. ("Back to Earth: Part 2")
Rimmer's light bee can be seen for a brief second when The Creator shoots him and the others in his plan for their end. (RD: Back To Earth, Part Three)
Episodes Featuring Light Bees
- The Inquisitor
- Demons & Angels
- Stoke Me a Clipper
- Back to Earth, Part Two
- Back To Earth, Part Three
Prior to introducing Rimmer's light-bee in the Series IV episode "Meltdown", it was unclear how Rimmer was able to leave Red Dwarf. In "Thanks for the Memory", Rimmer celebrates his deathday off-ship inside a Hologram Projection Cage.
In other instances he leaves the ship without difficulty, such when he goes in Blue Midget and boards the Nova 5 in the Series II episode "Kryten" or walks around the backwards Earth in the Series III episode "Backwards", making it seem likely that he had access to a light-bee long before it was actually mentioned on the show.
Considering the various other changes that occurred 'off-screen' between "Parallel Universe" and "Backwards" (see the events of "Dad") it seems likely that another unchronicled discovery was the light bee being created or discovered, allowing Rimmer greater freedom from the ship where he was previously confined to pre-fitted environments, and making the Hologram Simulation Suite redundant. This is supported by the events of "M-Corp", where Lister is the only member of the crew affected by a virus that renders him unable to perceive anything not created by M-Corp after they bought out the Jupiter Mining Corporation, as Rimmer would likely have also been affected if his light bee was part of the ship's original holographic projection equipment (Kryten was built by DivaDroid International, Holly is currently offline, and Cat is essentially a civilian).
Rimmer can apparently alternate between being projected via remote and being projected via light bee. In "Entangled", he is reverted to soft-light after Kryten programs a remote control to change Rimmer's physical state so that he can walk through a door and open it from the other side, but if he was being projected by the light bee it should have been impossible for him to go through anything.