Smallville, Season 1 Ep. 18, original airdate 4/30/2002
From the Smallville wiki: “Sasha Woodman [who gains the power to control bees after being stung by a bee from a kryptonite-infected hive – ed.] is eliminating her competition in the race for class president by commanding a swarm of bees to attack them.”
I just want to point out there’s nothing in the rulebook that specifically says she can’t use trained bees to win a student council election. I mean, I suppose we could put a “using kryptonite bees to win elections is bad” bill before Congress, but you just know some pro-bee senator is going to raise a stink about it on the floor.
When Smallville debuted on The WB in 2001, I felt like I was a little bit older than the target audience the series was going for, but I tuned in once in a while to see what was going on. I liked the parts that I liked (Rosenbaum was fun to watch and Welling was all right in the lead role), and it was neat how they brought back pretty much everyone who had ever worked in the Superman franchise for a guest appearance, but I was okay with not adding it to my must-see list.
So, place your bets. The writers used swarms of bees as the villain’s weapon of choice in this episode because:
(1) Bees represent man’s eternal struggle with his natural environment, simultaneously providing for humanity’s bounty while also vengeful and dangerous when handled irresponsibly, so in a sense they also represent the slim divide between life and death that haunts us all
(2) Fuzzy black clouds are hella cheap to produce on a TV FX budget; just tell your cast to run screaming while you add some dots to the scene in post.
2. “All Star Team Up”
The Flash, Season 1 Ep. 18, original airdate 4/15/2015
Huh, isn’t that weird. Both Smallville and The Flash had bee-themed episodes for the 18th episode of their first seasons. I wonder if someone planned it that way.
One of the things I like about the current crop of superhero shows on the CW is how they reinvent some of DC’s lesser-known properties into interesting characters. Case in point: Brie Larvin, the sociopathic scientist who uses robotic bees to exact vengeance on her ex-colleagues. She’s an updated version of the Bug-Eyed Bandit, an inventor who designed an army of mechanical insects and first appeared in the Atom’s comic book in the 1960s. Fittingly, she shows up in an episode of The Flash guest-starring Arrow’s Felicity Smoak and Ray “The Atom” Palmer, who arrive in Central City to hang out with Team Flash.
At first, Flash and his crime-fighting buddies assume a rash of murders involving bee-sting victims is the result of a bee-controlling metahuman, but soon the truth is revealed: Larvin’s “bees” are actually sophisticated robots armed with a potent toxin in their artificial stingers. In one particularly gross scene, the Flash arrives too late to save her latest victim, but just in time to witness a swarm of robot killer bees emerge from their latest victim’s mouth, When he fails to outrun them, he survives their stings only because of the defibrillator built into his suit.
Barry Allen: Another bee attack. Folston Tech.
Felicity Smoak: “Bee” careful.
Barry Allen: For real?
Felicity Smoak: Bad pun. Sorry. Just don’t die.
Hee. Felicity rules.
3. “Prometheus, Part 1”
The Incredible Hulk, Season 4 Ep. 1, original airdate 11/7/1980
“Don’t make me lumpy. You wouldn’t like me when I’m lumpy.”
From the interweb: “It is a beautiful day and Dr. David Banner is fishing at a lake when he hears a young woman crying for help. He saves her and brings her back to her cabin. Katie Maxwell was blinded by an accident. While David and Katie are walking, a meteor crashes near them. When David investigates, he is sickened by the radiation and fights a swarm of bees which triggers the transformation into the Hulk. Later, when he returns to Katie’s cabin, he changes back — but only half-way between the creature and Banner (half-Hulk, half-human). David can talk, but his voice is deep, and Katie can feel the muscles under his torn clothing. But when he once again becomes the Hulk, a military organization code-named Prometheus thinks he came from outer space and captures him and Katie.”
Boy, if I had a nickel…
4. “The Bloody Tower”
Batman, Season 3 Ep. 13, original airdate 12/7/1967
By the time Batman hit its third season, the show wasn’t the ratings bonanza it once was. ABC responded to falling ratings by introducing Batgirl to the cast, and it also tried to cut production costs by moving the show’s frequency from twice to once a week, eliminating the previous seasons’ famous cliffhanger endings.
A noticeable exception to the new “no multi-episode storylines” rule was the three-part “Londinium Larcenies” story starring special guest villains Lord Ffogg and Lady Peasoup. These espisodes saw Batman and Robin travel to Londinium (the Batman universe’s London) to solve a series of baffling burglaries in a straight-up salute to London’s role as the epicentre of the Swinging Sixties.
In “The Bloody Tower,” the Dynamic Duo race to save Batgirl from a dungeon death-trap when Robin accidentally trips a wire that lets loose an African Death Bee. He’s stung by the bee and left to die in the girls’ dormitory of a finishing school. There are definitely worse places to check out.
All together now: “Bees. My God.”
Props to the props department for creating such a, um, realistic-looking bee.
In this episode of the long-running Hanna-Barbera Super Friends franchise, residents of an African village run in terror when a swarm of killer bees zeroes in on them, trapping them inside a hut. Naturally, this international crisis requires immediate intervention by the Super Friends, and after a call on the Trouble Alert from Random African Leader Guy (“Which country in Africa am I calling from? Um… all of them”), Aquaman and Samurai announce they’re on the case.
So what are we going to do about the scary bees, guys? Does Samurai summon a giant wind to blow them away? Does Aquaman use mental telepathy to make all the river fish splash water on the bees? Sit tight while Superman, Wonder Woman or an actual useful Super Friend shows up?
As it turns out, their plan is for Samurai to turn invisible, grab a giant fishing net and then he and Aquaman yell “Try and catch me!” to lure the bees into the net. All righty, then. No one wants to figure out why the bees attacked this one village? Or how to keep them from attacking the next village they come across? No? Okay, moving on.
“Right now, I think it’s time we make a BEE-line back to the Hall of Justice.” Oh, Aquaman.
Running from 1966 to 1970, The New Adventures of Superman was a series of 8-minute shorts that ran alongside other shorts starring Batman, Aquaman, Superboy and other DC heroes under various show titles.
Bud Collyer and Joan Alexander, who voiced Clark and Lois in the Superman radio show from the 1940s, were brought back to reprise their roles. The studio employed several DC writers to write the scripts — including George Kashdan, who penned this episode. The series is also significant for being the first time many of Superman’s villains appeared in animated form, including Luthor, Brainiac, Toyman and Titano.
In this episode, a scientist trying to help humanity devises a way to create giant honeybees, but a pair of criminals force his giant bees to attack Metropolis for… I’m going to guess profit? It’s hard to see what their ultimate plan is, but points for being creative, I guess.
And I would just like to say, on behalf of everyone who’s not currently working on building bigger bees: “ATTENTION, SCIENTISTS! WE ARE HAPPY WITH THE SIZE OF OUR BEES! STOP MAKING BEES BIGGER AND DIRECT YOUR SCIENCE TOWARDS SOMETHING LESS STINGY, LIKE GIANT TACOS! THANK YOU!”
7. “Two Bumble Bees and a Wasp”
Teen Titans Go!, original airdate 4/2/2015
Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on ’em. Give me five bees for a quarter, you’d say. Now where were we? Oh yeah: the important thing was I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time…
Sorry, did I go off rambling again? My bad. Happens more and more often lately, for some strange reason.
Speaking of bees as money: here’s a clip from the Teen Titans Go! episode titled “Two Bumble Bees and a Wasp.” In the show’s typically surreal way, Robin’s attempts to teach his teammates about the importance of money somehow creates a world where bees are currency and Beast Boy is a very rich (and very lumpy) guy. Much stinging happens as valuable lessons are learned.
“DANCE FO YO BEES!”
Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, original airdate 10/10/1981
“Swarm is my master! I am a worker! I work for Swarm!” “MWA-HA-HA-HA! Everyone will work for Swarm!” This sounds a lot like that corporate retreat I did a while back.
Everyone’s favorite Marvel super-villain made of bees made his animated debut in this episode of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, but instead of an origin story involving imprudent Nazis and pissed-off bees, we get a (dumber) origin involving a glowing space rock that irradiates a swarm of bees.
Naturally, this magic rock causes the bees to form a humanoid shape with beam-emitting eyes and try to conquer the world by turning us humans into mindless bee-people, complete with wings and antennae. Swarm then makes some of the normal bees giant-sized and instructs them to bring him more drones — which they do, by flying into nearby New York City to grab citizens off the street, including Aunt May.
When Spider-Man, Iceman and Firestar investigate, they’re infected with the same mind control but Spider-Man doesn’t fall under Swarm’s influence because, as he surmises, his irradiated blood is already immune to other sources of insect-derived radiation. Yeah… I don’t think that’s how that works, Spider-Man. But hey, whatever it takes to get Aunt May back to cooking wheatcakes, I guess.
9. “Spidey and the Queen Bee”
The Electric Company, original airdate 1974
Here’s a fun fact: The Spidey Super Stories segments that appeared on The Electric Company were the first live-action rendition of a Marvel character in any medium since 1944’s Captain America serial, predating the 1970s Amazing Spider-Man show by three years.
In this episode, a half-human, half-bee mutant named Queen Bee (played by Electric Company regular Hattie Winston) plots to rule the world with the help of her underlings including the Beekeeper. She plans to do so by releasing a deadly bee named Fang to sting anyone who stands in her way.
Spidey tracks her down to her giant hive and foils her plans by webbing the Beekeeper, but not before Fang is released. The other mutated bee-humans sting Spidey repeatedly while she escapes. Spidey, covered with sting marks, eventually escapes the hive and is in pursuit of Queen Bee and Fang as the story ends. She shouldn’t be too hard to spot in that get-up.
10. “Episode 2”
Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, Season 2 Ep. 2, original airdate 8/2/2007
Never let it be said that Stan Lee couldn’t sniff a dollar bill from a mile away. With shows like Survivor and The Amazing Race inspiring a slew of reality-TV imitators in the 2000s, Lee produced and hosted Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, a show in which contestants donned homemade costumes and competed for the chance to see their superhero concepts star in a comic written by Lee and a TV movie airing on the Sci Fi Channel (which hosted the reality TV show).
An episode in the second and final season featured the villainous Bee Sting (played by Anna Easteden). In her challenge, she divided the heroes into two teams, locked the teams in booths with live bees, and forced the contestants to participate in a spelling bee. The gimmick: whenever the letter “B” appeared in a word, the hero had to spell it out as if it were the insect (so “boy” would be spelled “B-E-E-O-Y”). If a contestant misspelled a word or didn’t follow Bee Sting’s rules, she would release more bees into the booth.
Say what you will about her methods, I think we could improve a lot of kids’ reading scores if we brought bees into our schools.
11. “Dr. Bees”
Harry Partridge, uploaded to YouTube 5/11/2013
Technically not a television episode, but these days who can tell what’s what anymore?
British funny fellow Harry Partridge lists “voice actor” and “singer/songwriter” on his resume, but his work as a short-format web animator is also winning him applause on both sides of the pond. Some of his more popular animations include “Saturday Morning Watchmen” and “Skyrim,” a tribute to the video game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim that has been viewed more than 22 million times.
Dr. Bees is a “masked vigilante with a load of bees dedicated to saving mankind.” Wait, is he the one dedicated to saving mankind or are the bees…? Anyway, I think the real question we need to ask ourselves is this: why aren’t more workplaces celebrating “International Bring a Shit-Ton of Bees to Work Day”? Deranged, and delightfully so.