Girl Genius
Girl Genius

Hive Engines are a nasty bit of Sparky technology, having the purpose of hatching out a Hive Queen which in turn spews swarms of slaver wasps which transform people into revenants so that they will serve The Other. The original version of these large spheres was also created by The Other, and the device first appeared in conjunction with The Other War, dropped by parachute from some unknown location onto the latest targeted Spark-stronghold, in conjunction with a meteor bombardment. Following the War's mysterious end, other people attempted to both duplicate and (ugh) improve upon them. (See below)

It has been stated that

  • Hive engines contain "brines"
  • These fluids crystalize over time, allowing the engine's creation to be dated.
  • Hive engines must be deliberately activated , and otherwise exist in a dormant state.
  • Hive engines can sit inert for some time before being successfully reactivated.
  • Sparks are immune to being infected by this type of engine.


When Baron Klaus Wulfenbach reappeared and began taking over large chunks of Europa, one of his iron-clad rules towards his subjugated opponents was that they hand over to him any such technology they find in their borders. Our story proper begins when Tarsus Beetle gets his hands on an active-but-inert engine and smuggles it into his laboratory to study it, presumably planning to use it against the Baron. Unfortunately for him (and many other people), Klaus knows about this attempt, and arrives in force to take direct control of Beetleburg for the violation. This plan gets slightly disrupted with Dr. Merlot's impromptu reveal of the Engine, which leads to Dr. Beetle's death.

The hive engine is taken aboard Castle Wulfenbach for study by Klaus-minions Mr. Rovainen and Dr. Vg. An unfortunate comment from an enraged Agatha triggers the revenant Rovainen to activate the Engine, the inhabitants of which almost overrun the airship. Agatha and Gil manage to kill the Queen and most of the warrior-wasps before complete disaster strikes. The chaotic aftermath does contribute to Agatha's escape from the ship.

We readers don't hear much more about the Engines until Agatha reaches Balin's Gap, where they become an issue again. (Though near Passholdt Agatha and Master Payne's Circus encounter the swarming victims of one failed bout of Engine-tinkering.)

When the resident Geisters evacuate their stronghold beneath the city, they take with them numerous engines; it is not clear if they have been keeping original models all this time, or created them.

Different Types[]


Hive engine small enough to be carried by a man.

It is while focusing on Balin's Gap that the narrative first reveals that thanks to the aforementioned ongoing tinkering by various Other-minions, Hive Engines now come in different sizes. So far we have seen three, some of which perform different functions:.

Large Model with Queen and Warriors[]

The first type of hive engine shown in the story is very large, approximately four times the height of a man, and apparently contains a queen and warriors in some kind of suspended animation. As noted, the wasp generated by this type of hive cannot infect Sparks. This the "standard" model originally created by the Other.

Miniature Spark-wasp model[]

An (at least initially) unique hive engine created for use against Sparks is roughly the size of a baseball, and contains a single Wasp. It was created by Gottmurg Snarlantz of Passholdt, before his further experiments let loose the disaster that destroyed the town. At some point the one existing model is covertly extracted by Rudolf Selnikov and brought to Balin's Gap. It ends up in the possession of the copy of the Other controlling Agatha's body, and (mostly) successfully used to enslave Klaus.

Portable Hive Engine[]

Much later on, when Gil has assumed control of the Wulfenbach empire, it is revealed that this machine, which can be carried about in a rucksack, houses a small queen. When activated, she releases clouds of mosquito-sized wasps, capable of infecting even the smallest of persons like Susa, It is not known at this time if this machine also carries warriors. It was created by one Harken Magnavox, who is so proud of his achievement that he signs the engine.