The Buzz About Spike the Bee

by | Mar 21, 2020 | Uncategorized

Ah, the changing of the seasons. Temperatures are rising, the flowers are in bloom, birds are singing sweetly, and the bees are buzzing around Epcot. One bee in particular seems to be ubiquitous at the park: the utterly adorable Spike the Bee.

You can find Spike as part of the festival merchandise at the International Flower and Garden Festival. HIs image can be found on tumblers, garden stakes, a picnic blanket, ornament, t-shirts, and a shaker. He also sits atop a mug in the shape of a beehive, and adorns an Alex and Ani Flower and Garden Bracelet in the form of a charm. For the gardeners out there, Spike decorates a sun hat.

If all that isn’t enough, there is a Spike the Bee spork. That’s right, when you can’t decide if you need a spoon or a fork, Spike will come to the rescue as a wonderful hybrid between the two. Even better, there is the Spike the Bee Sipper, a drink holder in the shape of the lovable little bee that can be found at the Honey Bee-Stro Outdoor Kitchen. The kicker? It’s filled with the Honey-Peach Freeze, a tasty nectar that will have you coming back for seconds and thirds, or more.

There’s also a scavenger hunt: Spike’s Pollen Nation Exploration. Play along and you’ll find Spike at 12 of his favorite spots in Epcot. In keeping with the Epcot philosophy, there’s even an educational aspect to the game. The scavenger hunt helps teach Guests about the flowers that bees pollinate. Complete the game and you can win one of four themed juice cups: Mickey Homegrown, Minnie Flower Shop, Orange Bird and Spike the Bee.

So, where did it all begin?

Spike first appeared in the 1940 Donald Duck short “Window Cleaners,” but under the name Barrington the Bee. Jack Hannah (later of Hannah Barbera) was working as a Disney animator, who later began directing as well. According to Hannah, “One of the first things I did was begin to find some foils for the Duck…We used a bee character we called ‘Buzz Buzz’ a lot to antagonize the Duck. Probably the idea was that the bee is a menace with that stinger as a weapon and is much smaller than the Duck so it would be funny having the little guy battling a big bully. You can get a funny sound effect out of a bee. They can cuss you out with that little bee noise.”

Spike’s “voice” was provided by Jimmy MacDonald, and Bill Justice helped design him. One of his most distinctive features, the bulbous nose, was borrowed from Dale of Chip and Dale (who also made a living antagonizing Donald).

After “Window Cleaners” Spike appeared in a number of shorts:

Home Defense (1943) *whether or not this film counts, is a matter of some debate. The bee is not named Spike, and his personality is not the same as in later appearances.
Inferior Decorator (1948)
Bubble Bee (1949)
Honey Harvester (1949)
Slide, Donald, Slide (1949)
Bee At the Beach (1950)
Bee on Guard (1951)
Let’s Stick Together (1952)
The Mad Hermit of Chimney Butte (1960)

Spike also had a cameo in 1955’s “Beezy Bear” and “The Rangers Guide to Nature” released in 1966. More recently, he has made multiple appearances in the show “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” program, as well as the new Mickey Mouse shorts.

Spike, along with Orange Bird, is one of my favorite parts of the Flower and Garden Festival. It’s great to see these, somewhat obscure, characters getting the love and attention they deserve. Now, if they could just find a way to incorporate Humphrey the Bear…

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