Bee afraid. Beeveryafraid.
Have you ever been to a picnic where everyone freaks out when a bee buzzes by? Wouldn't it bee great if you could take that primal reaction and channel it for your own purposes?
As it turns out, quite a few writers have had just that thought. Enter the Bee Bee Gun — the weaponization of flying, stinging insects. Bees tend to be effective weapons of terror for a number of reasons — they're too small to shoot or stab, they always seem to come in swarms that can cover every inch of a person, they're difficult to outrun or outmaneuver, and they make that terrifying buzzing noise. Unlike honeybees and some others in the real world, these ones don't seem to die after the first sting. And god help you if you're allergic. ("Your insides will boil out of your eye sockets like a science-fair volcano!") And if you're not, well, being stung to death by thousands of bees would be a rather slow and unpleasant way to go.
In Real Life, of course, a foraging bee isn't likely to sting you unless you try to touch it, or you happen to be covered in sweet stuff, or you threaten their hive. Honeybees die when they sting (and workers can only sting once per bee; drones cannot sting at all) because their stingers are barbed, so that when they attempt to pull it out, they wind up wrenching it out along with a portion of their intestines: ergo they're not likely to do it unless they think it's really damn important. (Yellow jackets and most other wasps, on the other hand, have smooth stingers that enable them to be pulled out of whomever they sting, and they take malicious glee in reminding everyone of this fact.)
A stinging bee (or a crushed bee) releases attack pheromones that attract and rile up more bees. Bee venom is designed to make you think you've been hurt badly, and enough of it causes your throat to swell so that you asphyxiate. The pheromone sticks around and does not wash off quickly. Water is not an ideal deterrent - bees will sting whatever parts are above the water, and come after you when you get out. The sensation is not unlike that of being stung by ants or nettles, as all three use a venom cocktail that includes formic acid.
Ironically, a true swarm of bees is not particularly hostile note Except Africanized "killer" bees. Those attack anyone that gets too close.; some people swear by bee venom therapy' for arthritis etc., and when bee workers kill their queen they do so not by stinging, but by balling up around her and vibrating her muscles until the heat kills her (Mmmm... popcorn...).
The Bee Bee Gun comes a few varieties, such as:
One of the competitors in the Hunter test arc of Hunter × Hunter used bees.
The Aburame clan in Naruto uses insects that live in their body for fighting and tracking, but they mostly stuck to various kinds of beetles and flies. In an early filler episode, they were rivals of another ninja clan that did use bees.
The Get Backers manga has Dokubachi, a villain whose body is made of bees.
Although they're not technically bees, at one point in the Inu Yasha manga, Moryomaru shoots the bee-like Saimyosho from his mouth.
In episode 7 of the original Yatterman cartoon, the evil Dokurobei drops a beehive on his subordinate, Doronjo, and her two henchmen. Much swelling results.
Not bees, but otherwise a perfect example of this trope in Darker than Black. The second season has the character Tania who has the power to summon large clouds of insects which she can control to engulf others and kill them in a particularly horrible and painful manner.
The "bees" in question were giant "stygian killer hornets" whose sting could kill a person within... hours. Being "giant" meant they were not very hard targets to hit from a safe distance (unlike regular sized insects), and since their venom took "hours" to kill someone (unless a cure was found (which it was)) they were arguably far less deadly than a weapon that killed someone instantly. For a "secret weapon" unveiled by an invading nation that was already supposedly bringing America to its knees they left something to be desired.
And there was only about a dozen of the things anyway.
Parodied in Blue Beetle, where Traci Thirteen uses a staff to cast "Gds Ddly Wpon" - magical Bees. (Obligatory response from Jaime's father? "My God.")
There was also a running gag in Wonder Woman, post-AA, in which a special agent had to keep being reminded he wasn't recovering from an ordinary bee sting.
'Barnaby's Spelling Bees' in Viz ... one of their usual spoof characters whose schtick is that he has a swarm of killer bees that attack on command ... so long as their target begins with 'B'. Hilarity Ensues as normal.
The Golden Age superhero the Red Bee's entire shtick was a single trained bee that he kept in his belt buckle; being so ridiculous, he's mentioned with surprising frequency by modern writers.
Actually he had an entire swarm, but only one bee— the leader— had a name; Michael
Straight from the Golden Age, Red Bee! Knowing more about him makes it much, much worse. And it took him how long to die?
Recurring DC villainess The Queen Bee is an alien empress with insect-like strength and speed, projectile stingers, and mind-control pollen that can turn ordinary humans into "drones" for her hive.
A strip appeared in a British Anthology Comic in the 1960s entitled "The Stinging Swarm". It was about a gang of thieves that used a swarm of robot bees armed with paralyzing stings. While their victims were paralyzed, the gang would rob them blind.
The Flea from PS238 can control insects — bees included. And while all his other bug attacks are annoying, only the bees have so far made a power armoured soldier run around in a panic screaming "BEEES!" until his Mission Control could activate counter-measures.
In the Speed Racer movie, one member of the Viking-themed racer team had her car equipped with a beehive catapult. It is a testament to Crazy Awesome that this doesn't seem out-of-place at all.
Ruthless People: When Barbara learns of her husband's infidelity (and refusal to pay her ransom) she fantasizes about how she would punish him by covering him with honey and taking him to a bee farm.
The backstory of the titular Candyman is that he was hunted down by thugs, had his hand cut off, and stung to death by a hive of bees after having its honey spread over him. Later on he's revealed to be little more than a skeleton wreathed in the many thousands of bees that killed him.
The Deadly Bees (shown on MST3K) has a mad bee farmer who bred a special breed of bee that will attack anyone or anything that has a trigger scent on it. However, the bees manage to kill everyone except the intended targets because the villain is really inept at placing the scent.
In The Stupids, Stanley Stupid is at one point assaulted by the dreaded Drive Bee, sent by his nemesis Mr. Sender to kill him. Or at least that's what he thinks, since he's a complete Cloudcuckoolander. It does make him drive off the road though.
Sleepaway Camp had a scene where the murderer kills a bully by locking him in washroom stall before cutting open the window above him and dropping a beehive on him.
Western Rio Lobo has a Confederate raiding party throw a hornets' nest into a train car carrying some Union soldiers and a large gold supply they were guarding. One of the Union soldiers even dies from injuries sustained by throwing himself out of the train to escape said bugs.
In Bedazzled, the Devil demonstrates his evil by tossing a jar full of wasps into a peaceful group of flower children. Stanley, who has sold his soul for seven wishes, criticizes the deed, but isn't willing to use one of his wishes to help them.
In Jackass 3D, the boys have a skit where two of them actually play tetherball with a beehive. This goes about as well as can be expected.
In The Men Who Stare at Goats a gun that shoots wasps is proposed by the secret Psyops group that includes George Clooney's character's mentor and another guy who's his bitter enemy in between a non-lethal airbag mine and mutilating enemy corpses— "We don't do that anymore! Idiot!".
In one of The Three Stooges pictures (they were cave men), they fight off another band of cavemen by shooting a beehive at them using a giant sling shot. They also use chemical warfare by shooting a skunk at them.
In Apocalypto, Jaguar Paw throws a beehive at his pursuers, who are forced to run from the bees.
In Rudyard Kipling's The Second Jungle Book story "Red Dog", Mowgli stirs up a hive of wild bees to attack the marauding wild dogs of the title, having smeared himself with garlic so the bees won't attack him before he can reach the comparative safety of the river.
In Robin Hobb's Farseer trilogy, Molly once tricked a squad of guards into thinking she could control bees. She made sure she was in shadow while the guards were brightly lit (knowing that the bees would fly towards light), opened the beehive and told the bees to kill them all.
In Lois McMaster Bujold's The Sharing Knife: Beguilement, Dag defends himself against a group of village toughs trying to disrupt his wedding by dropping a wasp's nest on their heads. That he was able to magically convince the wasps to climb up pant legs and down shirt collars and to follow the boys all the way downriver was really just icing on the cake there.
Something similar happens in Redwall at least twice:
The original Redwall; Jess Squirrel and Silent Sam put a hornets' nest in a barrel and drop it over the wall onto the bearers of the battering ram.
Marlfox; the Abbeydwellers see that the titular villains and their followers are knocking down an old tree to use as a battering ram. They do nothing, because they know that said tree is full of wasp and termite nests, and the attackers suffer the consequences.
Not quite the same, but Martin and his friends in Martin the Warrior get trapped in a clearing full of angry bees.
In the most recent novel Doomwyte, some of the characters are attacked by bees apparently ruled by an elderly female hedgehog who is... a few honeycombs short of a full hive, so to speak. Unfortunetly, the plot device they need is in her possession and she won't give it up so easily. Eventually, however, she is killed by her own bees.
Then there's Owch Mansions in Eulalia, designed to be a paradise for wasps. Very handy when vermin come to call.
In the novel The Road to Damascus, a Bolo story written by Linda Evans and John Ringo, at one point in an alien invasion of their world, some protagonists throw the bee hives used for making honey into a barn where several of the invader's soldiers are found, killing the soldiers. The bees were genetically designed to be more aggressive to force out native competitors on other worlds.
In P.C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath book To Ride a Rathorn, protagonist Jame and insect-attracting boy Gari jointly kill someone by sending a swarm of bees down their throat.
In Robin McKinley's Chalice, the heroine is a Fisher Courtier who's also a beekeeper. Most of the book she just has magic honey, but at dramatically appropriate moments she has magic bee swarms as well.
In Survivor's Quest, the Vagaari have swarms of "schostri", yellow and black insects that can hide under their clothing or swarm in a protective spherical pattern around their handler. Their stings are quickly fatal to most life-forms. If this seems like a Vong thing... who knows? Maybe it is.
In Suzanne Collins's novel The Hunger Games, Katniss, the heroine, gruesomely kills two of her opponents by dropping a hive of hyper-angry, mutated wasps on them. The author describes, in full detail, one of the girls' slow, painful, seizure-filled death; and how the once "breathtakingly beautiful girl" is now unrecognizable from the stings.
To make matters worse, a single sting from one of these critters (called tracker jackers), is enough to induce vivid, terrifying hallucinations, as Katniss discovers the hard way.
At the end of The Culture novel Look to Windward, the Culture takes a horrific revenge on the masterminds behind a terrorist attack in a way that fully supports their Beware the Nice Ones credentials. One plotter is attacked by some kind of nanomachines which transform into insects (which he is afraid of) and invade every orifice and sting him to death.
In the Malcolm in the Middle episode "The Bots and the Bees", a bored Hal takes over construction of the Krelboynes' battle robot. He adds a cannon that shoots a laser-guided stream of bees at the opposing robot's controller. It backfires.
There was supposed to be a villain named Kane in Heroes season 2 that could control insects, with bees being his main "weapon". But he never showed up. This may be because of the Writer's Strike, or perhaps due to Special Effects Failure.
Or, more likely, given that this is Heroes, they didn't have the budget to show it more than once.
The X-Files, "Zero Sum." The conspiracy decides to test the viability of killer bees as a weapon.
In another episode, titled "X-Cops", Mulder and Scully wind up on the TV show "Cops" in Los Angeles chasing a monster that assumes the form of its victim's worst fear. Though the viewers don't get to see it, one of the cop's fears is a bee-man and the man is nearly stung to death.
And The Movie had the government genetically engineering bees that could deliver The Virus in their sting. X-Files really loves this trope.
Rescue 911: One of the segments detailed a traffic accident that involved a driver stuck in his vehicle, which was turned on its side—and the vehicle was a truck carrying bees. The bees were released. The fact that it happened at night didn't help; the bees were even more agitated by the headlights and sirens. This resulted in several rescue workers being sent to the hospital as well, and that stretch of the roadway had to be shut off for a few days. Ah, a testament to the power of bees.
The episode "Cupid's Quiver" of Friday The 13th: The Series had the surprisingly creepy villain kill a girl by trapping her in a car with a sack containing a beehive.
The cursed apiary that turned the bees within it into something much worse than mere killer bees: vampire bees!
In the Doctor Who serial Time and the Rani, the Mad Scientist the Rani had spheres full of killer insects in the village she had subjugated.
One of the early Mission: Impossible episodes had the team trying to figure out who the killer was in an estate by gaslighting the suspect, and there were bees everywhere in the background. And there's a new corpse. In the climax, the door locks on its own, trapping the team out and the killer insde, and the killer is killed by thousands of bees swarming into the room. The new corpse turns out to be the late beekeeper of the estate. This was the only supernatural episode in the entire history of the show.
Grimm: Mellifers, who become a swarm of bees and attack.
The song "Lord of the Hornets" by Robert Calvert of Hawkwind is about a crazy guy who breeds the aforementioned insects to attack people.
The song Voodoo Acid by Steve Vai is about a dream, in which the artist is seduced by the Queen of Bees. Vai is Known for leeping bees in his garden.
In Mortasheen, this is such a common power that it's actually its own damage type. And it's not just with bees either.
In Hunter The Vigil one of the Endowments that could be afforded to hunters to put them on an equal level with supernatural beings was a Personal Defense Swarm, which was, in essence, a magical hand that shoots bees. The bees are hinted to be made from a Pandoran, and the user is advised to keep their emotions in check - one guy had found out his partner was sleeping with his wife; when he let the bees out against a bunch of monsters, they slaughtered his partner while the monsters tore the rest of the group to shreds.
D&D 4e has the Swarm Druid, and divine spellcasters in earlier editions often had the stinging swarm spell, which not only covered a target in a swarm of biting or stinging insects, but the swarm could spread and would distract any caster who tried to perform a spell while afflicted.
The Melissidae, a bloodline of the Ventrue from Vampire: The Requiem, are vampiresses known as Queen Bees who attempt to organize themselves and those around them into complex hive-like societies. They have powers such as turning their blood tremendously addictive (more than the usual), causing pain with their kiss that's so severe you're unable to do anything other than writhe, and tearing apart your personality and memories to make you an near-mindless drone of her hive. And if it wasn't disturbing enough they also have the power to control bees (or wasps), store hundreds of them inside their stomachs/lungs, and release them any time they want. But one of the nastier things these bitches can do is to implant a queen bee inside your ear (or some other cavity), turning you into a living hive: The insects lay eggs and the larvae feed on you slowly, and you won't feel anything 'til they become adults and burst out of your body, ready for her to control.
Let's put it this way: these girls so disgusting the rest of vampire society that they tried to commit genocide on them. Too bad they missed three.
Averted in Kingdom Hearts. One of the Keyblades in KH 2, Sweet Memories, has bees floating around the head of the blade (a hive; you get Sweet Memories from 100 Acre Wood). However, instead of being an angry, bastardy weapon, it's just lovely; it has low attack, releases presents when you kill enemies, and makes a lovely noise.
BlazBlue's Arakune is undoubtedly the ultimate summation of this trope. After he curses his opponent with any of his Drive attacks, he can press the same button again to summon, yeah, BEES! But these aren't just any bees. These are bees that repeatedly hit you and keep you juggled in the air. Worse still is the fact that if you block, you remain in blockstun until they go out of range, leaving you in a very vulnerable state as Arakune rushes in to throw you. No wonder he's so hated.
The Sorrow: The Pain, how did you come to be covered in bees?
The Pain: Due to my mother's constant craving for sweets during pregnancy, I was born with fragments of honey DNA.
The official explanation for his abilities are... interesting at best. He got stung enough that the hornets thought he was a hornet too. Plus he kept a Queen Hornet a pack at his hip. Apparently that's all you need to control hornets with your mind.
And apparently all that you need to make hornets turn into a Tommy gun is a persuasive argument.
Considering how big they are, The Pain appears to control Japanese Giant Hornets.
If you defeat The Pain by stamina-killing him (lowering his stamina meter as opposed to his health meter) you get the Hornet Stripe camo, which lets you control bees if you shoot down a beehive close to you. You can then make the bees attack enemy soldiers if you get close enough to them.
Half-Life had the hive hand weapon, which shot alien "thornets", which are less like bees, and more like flying, seeking armor-piercing daggers of death that can find you anywhere.
Normal bees return as well, but will start stinging you unless you catch them again.
Normal bees will also only sting the enemies a few times before flittering off the screen. Golden bees stick around forever. Given enough time they will kill entire screenfuls of enemies.
The Golden Bee is also one of the most useful weapons for the boss fight against Mothula.
The Pokémon named Vespiquen is a queen bee who uses a swarm of its prevolution Combee to attack, defend, and heal herself. There's also Beedrill, which is a giant bee with enormous spikes on its forelegs.
The Custom Robo series has a recurring Hornet Gun.
Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath has Stingbee crossbow ammo, which work like machine gun bullets and home in on enemies.
In Mega Man Battle Network 6, some of the enemies were beehives that, when you shot them, shot bees out at you. The battlechip you got from defeating them? It shot bees that home in on enemies. And if you deployed the beehive at just the right moment, when an enemy hit you, he'd stir up the hive and summon more angry bees at himself.
Mega Man 9 features a robot master named Hornet Man, who attacks by summoning bees that chase Mega Man around the room. His weapon, the Hornet Chaser, lets Mega Man do it too. The strangely adorable bugs not only attack enemies, but fetch power-ups to return to the "queen" (Mega Man). This is the only way to get some of them. Best not to think too hard about why Splash Woman is weak to them. Something about her having lighter armor than the other masters...
Mega Man X 3 has Blast Hornet, who shoots hornets at you as a primary attack. His weapon, the Parasite Bomb, is an Awesome, yet Impractical bomb that latches onto the enemies it hits and rams them into the nearest enemy they can find, blowing both of them up... until you charge it up. Then it shoots homing bees.
Mega Man ZX Advent has a boss named Queenbee, who is (surprise, surprise) a giant robotic bee... with a rather sultry tone of voice. In addition to launching smaller bees (which explode!), she can also shoot fire from her stinger, and she will sometimes fly offscreen to pick up, then drop on you, a rather large bomb which explodes with Anime Light Beams coming out of it.
Both Civilization IV and the Medieval 2 : Total War add-on feature the Mayan Hornet Thrower. See below.
Hellgate: London has the Hive Blade/Swarm Edge swords and the Wasp/Windhopper/Swarm Hive guns. This is the same game with Electric Eel Launchers, so it's no surprise there. Also, the spell "Venom Armor" automatically sics bees on anyone that attacks you.
The aerial shooter Snoopy Vs the Red Baron has one of these as a weapon for Snoopy to mount on his Sopwith Camel.
Secret of Evermore has the alchemy spell Sting, one of the hardest in the game to locate, which summons a swarm of bees that attack enemies.
The Incredible Hulk had the Enclave (A Secret Society of Mad Scientists) attacking the titular Hulk with a wide variety of weapons. Including The Swarm, which are... swarms. Of presumably bio-engineered bees. They are actually effective against the friggin' Hulk, who's proven capable of shrugging off nuclear weapons. Fortunately, his signature 'hand clap' attack is effective at dispersing the little buggers...
Resident Evil 0 features as enemies men made out of leeches, who are all controlled by a scientist who was eaten by a leech and whose personality was digested into its genetic memory.
EVE Online: "Imagine a swarm of deadly hornets pouring from the devil’s mouth. Now imagine they have autocannons." - Designer of the HEL drone Carrier.
The monstrous Devouring Earth in City of Heroes have "the Swarm", roughly spherical masses of bees that may be encountered independently or summoned by certain monsters. They're more a nuisance than a threat, except in large numbers; their stings do mild continuing damage and slow down the speed of your movement and attacks.
City of Villains has a mission where you get to make these yourself courtesy of a Jar Of Bees.
The Stranger in Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath gets Stingbees and Super Stingbees (these ones can home in on Outlaws) for his crossbow.
In the Halo 2ARGI Love Bees, one half of a fractured combat AI is sent back in time, finding its way to a website about bees and honey. Everything about it, up until the conclusion, revolved around...well, you can guess.
The Hornet's Nest ring from zOMG! has you throw a hornet's nest to the ground, releasing a swarm of angry hornets that sting enemies and make them run in fear.
One of the traps in Evil Genius releases a swarm of bees that attacks nearby characters.
The Deathbellows Transgenants of UFO: Aftermath, which emit clouds of nondescript insects (likely bees, though) as a rapid-fire sustained area-effect weapon, can and WILL be your squad's number 1 cause of death until the Reticulans start bringing in bioengineered rocket launchers.
Riviera has a one-use weapon called the Hornet Vulcan. It's a killer bee nest that the player has the option of retrieving. When the player uses it, massive damage ensues. There's always the chance that the bees will go for you rather the opponent...
In the Let's Play of Baldurs Gate 2, sir Anomen is killed when he falls into a gate to the elemental plane of bees. At least, that's what the protagonist insists is what happened...
The game itself has a druid spell that summons a swarm of bad-tempered bees that sting your enemies. This completely shuts down enemy spellcasting, as the mages are too distracted by the incessant stinging, allowing you to mug them.
In Dragon Age, mages get access to the Stinging Swarm spell, which engulfs enemy targets in a swarm of bees. Mages who specialize in shapeshifting can even transform themselves into a particularly large swarm.
Recent but already legendary is the custom map achivement_all_4. To explain: achievement servers are special servers that players set up to grind achievements instead of actually going out and getting them ingame. One player designed a map to look like an achievement server with a uh...nasty surprise that players can accidentally trigger. Yes, it's a twenty-foot tall cat that shoots bees out of its mouth.
Subverted in a sidestory of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: Beeman prepares one of these, but it's not very effective because he loaded it too far in advance and all the bees died.
While the type of insect isn't specified, in Dead Of Summer, a bad guy attacks Commander with this. They're biting insects as opposed to stinging ones, first eating part of his clothing before attacking. Unlike some other examples, it's played seriously and frighteningly. At one point Commander screams that they're eating him alive, and it doesn't look like he was exaggerating.
In The Terrible Thunderlizards, the Thunderlizards used bazookas, grenades, and guns that shot bees.
The Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers episode "Risky Beesness" was about a wacko woman who wanted to break into the music business in the worst way — by hypnotizing bees into doing her bee-dding: getting them to seal away Iron Goose and keep people from leaving the concert. She also used them to attack the Rangers when they attempted to stop her.
Invader Zim features bees amongst its other animal references, such as when a single bumblebee took down Zim's Voot Cruiser in "Attack of the Saucer Morons". Jhonen Vasquez has admitted on the DVD commentary that he has a thing for bees.
Johnny Test has a recurring villain called the Bee Keeper who uses bees as a weapon and speaks in bee puns. In his first appearance, his raison d'etre is to eliminate all the sweet foods from the town of Porkbelly with his bees... so that people will eat his all-natural honey bars. Turns out he was the old guy from the adverts.
The Disney movie about Tinkerbell features a scene where Tink and the other Fairies play darts with bees. Tink pulls out a slingshot/crossbow to fire hers instead.
On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Lucius has a button on his desk that shoots bees at people.
My father was a beekeeper, and his father was a beekeeper. And I'm going to follow in their footsteps. And their footsteps were like this: "AAAAAAAAAH! <Running Around> I'm covered in BEEEEEEEES!"
"I like my women like I like my coffee. Covered in beeeeeeeeeeeeees!"
In Pogo, Albert the Alligator invents the B-Bomb: “With a real B-hive in it!”
The Mayans had soldiers specializing in throwing hornet nests at their enemies in battle. They covered themselves in thick mud to protect themselves from the obvious potential for blowback.
According to William Gurstelle in "The Art of the Catapult," Alexander the Great had his catapults fire hornets' nests onto the decks of enemy galleys during the Siege of Tyre. Which is just ghastly.
A cancelled US Army weapons project involved a chemical weapon that, when dropped on enemy troops, would attract and enrage any bees, wasps, or related insects in the area. The project was never fully realized.
Bees and wasps emit an attack pheromone that attracts others to the target, usually when the hive is perceived to be threatened.
The venom of the Asian Giant Hornet is not only one of the most painful in the world, but it also contains an enzyme that marks the unfortunate victim so that other Asian Giant Hornets in the vicinity will home in and attack the target. It also dissolves human skin.
One episode of the Discovery show Pitchmen featured an aspiring inventor trying to sell windshield wipers that could, among other things, remove splattered bugs from a windshield. To demonstrate the product, his friend designed a gun that shot bees at a windshield at a high velocity.
In the Middle Ages, throwing/catapulting beehives over city walls at attacking armies was an effective tactic, and fairly common, as in those days honey was the most available sweetener and almost everybody had a couple of hives around.
Some yellow jackets and hornets, including the aforementioned Asian Giant Hornet, can spray venom.