The 'Killer Bees' Scare Of The '70s: Was There A Real Threat?

By Karen Harris
Apis mellifera scutellata, the "Africanized bee," scourge of the '70s; poster for the 1978 movie 'The Swarm.' Source: Wikimedia Commons, IMDB

The killer bees are coming! That's what we heard over and over in the '70s, thanks to the killer bee scare that became a media sensation. Fear about an invasion of killer bees stoked schoolyard debates and inspired disaster movies. And that's saying something, because there were plenty of real things to be concerned about in the '70s; reports of Vietnam war protests, government cover-ups, hijackings, the gas shortage and bra-burners at equality rallies. The terrifying newspaper articles about killer bees and the threat they posed to people and the environment were downright scary in their descriptions of how the killer bee hybrids were on the verge of invading the United States and how they formed massive and vicious swarms that attacked and killed anything in its path. Whatever happened to the swarms of killer bees that threatened the people of the seventies? Was there even a real threat from these insects or was it a case of sensationalized news reporting or even a hoax, like the Bigfoot craze?