One thing that has fascinated me as I’ve approached this project. How would I feel about the episodes of In Search of… that weren’t based entirely on bullshit?
OK, let’s be honest. I don’t remember any episodes of In Search of… that weren’t bullshit. From my recollection, it was all about ghosts and monsters and aliens. So imagine my surprise as I looked at the DVD menus of the first disc and saw “Killer Bees.”
Sure, “killer bees” is a lurid and over-dramatic misnomer of africanized honeybees, but it is a real phenomena and they do exist, here and now, where I live. Only very recently an acquaintance of mine was attacked by them near my office.
Yes, indeed, a very real thing… but what would In Search of… make of it? Especially back in 1977, when they were still a continent away from us.
Actually, I can’t really fault In Search of… on this one. What they stated seems to be factually accurate, although they did spend a fair amount of time recounting the details of several bee attacks, just to make it sound more terrifying.
In the 1950’s, the government of Brazil hoped to create a honeybee that could thrive in the jungle conditions there. To that end, a research facility took african honeybees, which are close relatives to the European honeybees and attempted to harness them in the Brazilian environment. African honeybees live longer, breed faster and produce significantly more honey than their European counterparts.
They also swarm more often (that is, pick up house and move somewhere else) and are crazy aggressive protecting their homes. – earning them their reputation as “killers.”
In 1957 an idiot mistakenly released the bees just as they were about to swarm and the rest is history. Africanized bees have outcompeted the established honeybees and been moving north ever since.
At the time of production of this episode, it was estimated they’d reach the US in 1990. In reality, they got here in 1985, having caught a lift on a Venezuelan oil tanker.
Nimoy is outside again this episode. This time in a nice flowery field and later sitting on a patio. It’s all very pleasant and, looking back over the distance of time, it reminds us of a simpler time when people could go outside without the threat of the killer bees!
Only 138 episodes left.
In Search of… Killer Bees originally aired May 1, 1977.