After the introduction of African honeybees into Brazil, a violent hybrid evolved when they mated with the gentler Brazilian species. The new strain began to take over the bee population of South America and slowly spread toward the U.S. Franklin (Claudio Brook) and Sandra (Angel Tompkins) are genetics professors working in Brazil. They are attempting to alter the Africanized honeybees, so they are not as violent but still produce more honey. When a local tries to break into the experimental hives his son is stung to death by the Africanized bees. The villagers blame Franklin. They destroy the hives and the research center. In the process Franklin is stung to death.
Sandra continues her husband’s work. She returns to the U.S., bringing one of the queen bees. Her uncle, Dr. Sigmund Hummel (John Carradine) is also working on bee research. Working with Hummel is John Norman (John Saxon). Hummel’s specialty is bee communication.
Investors are anxious to get their hands on some of the killer bees because they are the largest honey producers and the quality of their honey is supposedly superior. When John refuses to help them, they decide to smuggle some of the killer bees into the U.S. The bees manage to escape and soon there are swarms of angry killer bees sweeping across the United States.
John, Sandra and Hummel race to try to exterminate the killer bees. Hummel is working on a pheromone that will cause the bees to become confused and kill each other. At first it seems as if Hummel’s pheromones are working, but soon the bees begin to mutate, and in so, develop a superior intelligence. And they are not happy with what mankind is doing to the Earth.
“The Bees” AKA “Abejas asesinas” or "Killer Bees" was released in 1978 and was directed by Alfredo Zacarias. It is a Mexican eco-horror film. The movie was shot in both English and Spanish to make sure that the dubbing in both languages would match. It was distributed by Roger Corman’s company, New World Pictures, but Roger had nothing to do with making the film. New World Pictures was paid to postpone the film’s release so that it would not coincide with Warner’s release of their killer bee film, “The Swarm” 1978. Warner’s film didn’t do very well, and neither did “The Bees”.
Most people think it is an American film, but it really isn’t. The movie has gotten a lot of bad reviews, but if you look at it under an alternate light source it has a lot of that silly Mexican charm. The budget is low, the acting spotty, the music is weird and canned, and at some point, it just got downright ridiculous. Those aspects are standard on a lot of Mexican movies. They are also what make the movie so much fun.
Supposedly, for safety reasons, the bees in this film had their stingers removed. Stock footage of the 1978 Pasadena, California Tournament of Roses Parade with President Gerald Ford as Grand Marshal was used. In another scene, Walter Hanna played the part of President Jimmy Carter.
Late in his life, John Carradine did several Mexican films, “The Bees” being one of them. During shooting Carradine suffered from crippling arthritis. You can see in the film that his hands are curled.