Dispel the Bees

by Herman Chau


By some combination of solving clues, counting the number of clues in each section, and considering the title, we arrive at the conclusion that this is a puzzle themed around the New York Times' Spelling Bee. The answer to each crossword clue uses precisely 7 distinct letters and we can fill out a hexagonal grid radially outwards using these letter banks. For example, the answer to the first clue “Shape of this puzzle (7)” is HEXAGON, and its letters end up being filled in to the center 7 hexagons as follows:

A priori, there isn't a unique way to fill in the letters for each answer as they can be jumbled up. However, we can logically deduce how the letters are filled in based on adjacent answers. For example, the 6 answers at a distance of 1 from the center are CORN CHEX, EXCHANGE, GOT THE AXE, I GOT NEXT, OXYGEN TENT, and XENOSAGA. Each of these words contains an X and we use this to help us deduce that the X in HEXAGON is almost certainly going in the center of the grid. In such a fashion, we will be able to fill the grid uniquely, up to rotation and reflection:

Once the entire grid is filled, we notice that there are precisely 6 B's in the entire grid and they occur at the outermost 6 vertices of the hexagonal grid. The 6 bee images with dotted wings at the bottom of the puzzle suggest thinking of the two letters adjacent to the B's as a pair of "wings". This yields twelve letters which in cyclic order spell out JWST FULL NAME which clues the answer JAMES WEBB SPACE TELESCOPE, whose mirrors are befittingly in a similar hexagonal grid shape.


The list of answers to the clues is as follows:

Shape of this puzzle (7)HEXAGON
General Mills cereal (4 4)CORN CHEX
Act of trading goods (8)EXCHANGE
Was fired, say (3 3 3)GOT THE AXE
"After this, let me play" (1 3 4)I GOT NEXT
Medical canopy to assist with breathing (6 4)OXYGEN TENT
Monolith Soft game series (8)XENOSAGA
Eye-catching (9-7)ATTENTION GETTING
Orange pigment (8)CAROTENE
Instrument company popularized by George Harrison (7)GRETSCH
Not monotonous? (2 6)IN STEREO
"Terrific", sarcastically (2 5)OH GREAT
Greek drama trilogy (8)ORESTEIA
Economic downturn (9)RECESSION
Stone often worn by Roman soldiers (5'1 3)TIGER'S EYE
Nerfs and BBs (3 4)TOY GUNS
High ___ (7)TREASON
Squirts (8)YOUNGINS
Diving helmet attachment (3 4)AIR HOSE
Tile-placement board game (11)CARCASSONNE
Deserving certain privileges (8 2)ENTITLED TO
Drink whose logo includes a thunderbolt (8)GATORADE
Statistic in chains and belts (4 5)GEAR RATIO
Like Qatar vis-a-vis the FIFA World Cup (4 6)HOST NATION
"The game is up!" (1'1 2 2 3)I'M ON TO YOU
Game played with a stick and ball (8)LACROSSE
____ house (dwelling with no stairs) (3-5)ONE STORY
Plant also known as cat's foot (9)PUSSYTOES
Small and dingy place (7)RATHOLE
Cinnamon candies (3 4)RED HOTS
Schoolchild accessory (7)SATCHEL
Exploratorium, for one (7 6)SCIENCE MUSEUM
Racehorse of film (11)SECRETARIAT
Mailed (4 7 2)SENT LETTERS TO
Stuffed pasta (10)TORTELLINI
Bastion successor (10)TRANSISTOR
Agreement (10)ACCORDANCE
Empire State Building style (3 4)ART DECO
Whale cavities (9)BLOWHOLES
Repress (6 2)BOTTLE UP
Mandarin relative (10)CLEMENTINE
The Doors drummer (8)DENSMORE
It runs from corner to corner (8)DIAGONAL
Suffice (2 3 3)DO THE JOB
"mitmh2023", for one (6 4)DOMAIN NAME
Lady Gaga lover (8)FERNANDO
When you might see a pirate (9)HALLOWEEN
Surfs (5 3)HANGS TEN
Brand name towelettes used for cleaning (1 6)J CLOTHS
Listlessness (7)LANGUOR
Where you might find Poetic Justice (5 3)MEDIA LAB
Small details (8)MINUTIAE
What's left after deductions (3 7)NET BALANCE
They might be found next to a crib (5 6)NIGHT LIGHTS
Fresh ___ (3 3 4)OFF THE BOAT
Vegetable cultivar used in sauces (4 6)PLUM TOMATO
They often show up when right clicking (3-2 5)POP-UP MENUS
Konami horror series (6 4)SILENT HILL
___ of Management (5 6)SLOAN SCHOOL
Traitor (8)TURNCOAT