2231: The Time Before and After Land

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The Time Before And After Land
According to Google, "the time for Beeland" is apparently whenever you're looking for delicious honey in Spillimacheen, British Columbia or a hexagonal chalet in the Savinja valley in Slovenia.
Title text: According to Google, "the time for Beeland" is apparently whenever you're looking for delicious honey in Spillimacheen, British Columbia or a hexagonal chalet in the Savinja valley in Slovenia.


This comic indulges in some wordplay on the title of the 1988 animated movie The Land Before Time, which takes place millions of years ago in the time of dinosaurs.

The comic shows a timeline of the history of the universe from the Big Bang to the present day, with The Land Before Time placed at the point in the timeline where the movie is set, as well as other seemingly arbitrary events such as the formation of rocky planets and the evolution of ground-nesting bees. The joke is that Randall has contrived several periods of universal history that sound like funny permutations of "The Land Before Time" due to certain words being homophones, such as "time" and "thyme", or homonyms, such as the noun "land" (ground) and the verb "land" (to alight). He also split the word "before" into "bee" and "for".

The title text is for the phrase "the time for Beeland" and lists 2 places (that Randall found on Google) with the name "Beeland": a market in Spillimacheen, British Columbia or a chalet in Slovenia.

Bees are a recurring topic on xkcd.

Explanation of time ranges on the chart[edit]

Range From To Explanation
The time before land Big Bang Rocky planets form The Big Bang is a scientific theory that attempts to describe the very earliest conditions in our universe, but is also used informally as a synonym for the beginning of the universe. The early universe contained only simple elements such as hydrogen, but over time, star formation led to the creation of new, heavier elements, which eventually gave rise to planets with a rocky surface, which we call "land". It would have taken billions of years for the first such land-bearing planet to appear in the universe, so this time period could be considered "the time before land".
The time before bees Big Bang Ground-nesting bees evolve This time range also includes the formation of the Earth, a necessary precondition for bees to evolve.[citation needed] Any time before the evolution of bees could be considered "The time before bees". While the chart does not account for the possibility that non-ground-nesting bees may have existed prior to ground-nesting ones, evidence strongly suggests that the common ancestor to all bees nested in the ground rather than forming hives.
The land before thyme Rocky planets form Thymus genus diverges Thymus is the genus of plant that is called "thyme" in English, and it is pronounced exactly the same way as "time". By "diverges", it is meant that this is the point in time at which the Thymus genus of plants split off from their ancestral line - ie. when thyme first evolved. This time range is after land first appears in the universe, but before thyme evolved - therefore, any land that existed within this time range can be considered "the land before thyme". When said, this sounds exactly the same as "The Land Before Time".
Time for land bees! Ground-nesting bees evolve Now When conditions change to allow an event to occur, people sometimes say "time for (event)!". In this case, the event is the emergence of ground-nesting bees, which could be considered "land bees".
Bees land on thyme Thymus genus diverges Now Bees are flying insects, and therefore must land in order to rest before taking off again. Now that thyme has evolved, bees are able to land on thyme plants. This is a play on two different meanings of the word "land"; as a noun, it means solid ground, but here, it is a verb which means to alight or stop flying.

There is also a secondary joke here, with thyme sounding similar to time. Such, bees landing on thyme could be misheard as bees not landing late.


[Caption at top of panel:]
(Timeline not to scale)
[A timeline is shown with two endpoints and five other points. The points are labeled:]
Big Bang
Rocky planets form
Earth forms
Ground-nesting bees evolve
The Land Before Time
Thymus genus diverges
[Below the timeline are five overlapping time periods in three rows. The text is between two thick black bars. The time periods all start and end at two different points.]
[Big Bang to Rocky Planets Form:]
The Time Before Land
[Big Bang to Ground-Nesting Bees Evolve:]
The Time Before bees
[Rocky Planets Form to Thymus Genus Diverges:]
The Land Before Thyme
[Ground-Nesting Bees evolve to Now:]
Time for Land Bees!
[Thymus Genus Diverges to Now:]
Bees Land on Thyme

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I believe that the "bees" are paired with words like "for" in the chart to draw similarities to the word "before"? 21:49, 20 November 2019 (UTC)

They weren’t though. “That Guy from the Netherlands” (talk) 13:08, 21 November 2019 (UTC)

Agreed. Has been changed. 21:59, 20 November 2019 (UTC)

While the chart begins with Big Bang on the left side, I bee-lieve it's a history of our solar system, not the universe. When Rocky Planets formed is not a single specific point in time across the entire universe, and we have no idea if bees or thyme even exist beyond our planet. Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 23:12, 20 November 2019 (UTC)

Not quite. The Earth formed with the rest of the solar system. And since "Rocky planets form" is shown earlier, it's presumably refers to rocky planets in the universe -- in other, older star systems, rather than our own. --Aaron of Mpls (talk)

As of this comment, this page is the first page to pop up when typing in the phrase "The Time for Beeland". 23:51, 20 November 2019 (UTC)

What's missing is Time after Thyme Capncanuck (talk) 00:45, 21 November 2019 (UTC)

And big missed opportunity for "Four bees land on thyme" 05:16, 21 November 2019 (UTC)
Fortunately, we seem to have avoided "the land after bee's time". At least for now. 23:03, 21 November 2019 (UTC)SiliconWolf

The Big Bang of course has two bees in it.

…But those bees did not develop until long after homo sapien did, the written word, the latin alphabet, et al. Indeed, “The Big Bang”, is a rather more recent construct, although the event is pre-Plank time. Logics (talk) 17:22, 21 November 2019 (UTC)
Ty for missing and/or killing the joke... 23:03, 21 November 2019 (UTC)SiliconWolf
Isn't that the point of this wiki? a joke explained is a bad joke. --Lupo (talk) 08:41, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
Huh. I guess I didn't consider that we should explain our own jokes as well as Randall's. 18:49, 22 November 2019 (UTC) SiliconWolf

I accidentally deleted the "incomplete explanation" tag after completing the transcript. Sorry about that, I'm new to wiki editing :( Duraludon (talk) 16:05, 21 November 2019 (UTC)

Fixed, no worries. :) Hawthorn (talk) 16:56, 21 November 2019 (UTC)

Perhaps missing from the hovertext: The home of LEGO? ;) 17:17, 21 November 2019 (UTC)

He left out the fecund topic of "Time of FurBees" Cellocgw (talk) 13:45, 22 November 2019 (UTC)

Any link to the horrible pun in https://xkcd.com/282/ ? It's at least another thyme pun

It appears that not only is the timeline not to scale, so is the bottom horizontal line. Randall shows "The Land Before Time" movie concurrent with "The Land Before Thyme" era. Ancient Egyptians and greeks were already cultivating Thyme well before the movie was released in 1988. These Are Not The Comments You Are Looking For (talk) 03:12, 25 November 2019 (UTC)

Good question, what does the hash mark labelled "The Land Before Time" refer to? It cannot refer to the existence of the movie, The Land Before Time. It most likely refers to the time period portrayed in the movie, i.e. the time of the dinosaurs. According to the timeline, dinosaurs developed after land nesting bees and before the thyme plant developed.
It's the time that the movie supposedly takes place in, back in the Cretaceous. Nitpicking (talk) 01:37, 1 August 2023 (UTC)