Tales Of Suspense #32: "The Man In The Beehive!"

Tales Of Suspense #32
"The Man In The Beehive!"
August, 1962

Story: Unknown
Art: Jack Kirby
Inks: Dick Ayers

Unlike most people, Lucius Farnsworth does not have to wear a net
whenever he's near a beehive. Seeing that his pets are happy, Farnsworth
knows that they will continue to produce honey for him. A disgruntled
beekeeper knows that the more honey they make, the more money his
employer makes. Thanks to his pets, Lucius Farnsworth is the most
successful honey maker in the entire state. Farnsworth may be a rich
man, but this evening, the bee keeper will be the one taking some of that
dough. That night, he breaks into the house, and knows that his
employer's distrust of banks will enable him to become a rich man. He's
had to spy on Farnsworth for months, but he's learned the combination to
the safe, and should have enough money to retire in style. On his way to
a midnight snack, Lucius Farnsworth hears someone at his safe, and spots
Eric the beekeeper when he turns on the light.

Now that he's been found out, Eric intends on making sure that the police
never learn of his wrongdoing. To his surprise, his employer just stands
there, and orders him to drop his weapon. The eyes of Lucius Farnsworth
bear down on the beekeeper, who is unable to pull the trigger. Once he
is handed the gun, Farnsworth intends on making his employee pay for his
mistake. As they walk outside, employer asks employee if he's ever
wondered why the bees have never stung him, and if he was aware that
Farnsworth possesses some strange powers of his own. Lucius Farnsworth
is a mutant, born with the power to accomplish impressive feats with his
brain. Now, he will reduce them down to the size of bees. Indeed, Eric
is startled to find himself and Farnsworth are now no larger than the
bees. It will be the bees who will mete punishment. The beekeeper begs
not to enter the hive, but if he doesn't, he will be shot.

Within the hive, Eric sees the wings and honey-coated tongues of the
bees. He hears the hum of a thousand insects, knowing that he is trapped
within their realm. One of the bees is coming towards him, and is about
to sting. If he were at normal size, it wouldn't harm him, but at this
smaller size, it will be fatal. He must hide, but where? The honeycomb
is the only place for him. Spotting eggs, he turns away from that
particular cell. He'll hide in the other cell beneath the honey. It
doesn't work because the bees can see him in there, and he can see them
through the honey.

The bees are sucking out the honey out of the cell to get at him. In his
frantic state, Eric tears at the wall, in order to save his own life. He
can hardly move in the sticky substance, but he must break through to the
next cell. Eric's made it, but Farnsworth has spotted the coward, and
alerts his pets. With nowhere to hide, he seizes the queen bee. Now,
he's on, and won't be stung by the other bees.

Eric strives to guide the queen towards the hive's opening, where he can
make his escape. Before he can reach his goal, the beekeeper finds
himself lassoed by his employer, and pulled off by blades of grass. The
bees will not be cheated of their vengeance. On the ground, the bees
swarm towards him, with one of them restraining him. Trapped and unable
to move, Eric sees the others coming closer --- closer. In another
moment, it will all be over. The voice of Lucius Farnsworth cries out,
and the bees withdraw from view.

He knows that the disgruntled beekeeper will never try to rob or injure
him again. Employer and employee are once again back at their normal
size. Farnsworth explains that everything was merely an illusion. When
Eric was caught at the safe, he was placed in a hypnotic trance, and
believed himself to be trapped in the beehive. Despite the employer's
explanation, there is still something left to ponder. When the bee man
takes his leave, he leaves a small metal object behind. Eric can't tell
for sure what it is. He continues to search the floor, but he will never
find the tiny gun he imagined he saw. Eric will never know for certain
what truly happened.

This story was reprinted in Where Monsters Dwell #34 (March, 1975).

An misattribution in the issue states that it first appeared in Strange
Tales #99.

On the cover of Where Monsters Dwell #34 by Sal Buscema, we take a good
long look at the man in the beehive. The poor man can't take a bad case
of the hives.

To bee or not to bee, that is the question.

The disgruntled beekeeper sought to increase his net worth, but got
caught in the net, instead.

One wonders if Lucius Farnsworth was an alias for Mastermind of the
Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.

Whether Farnsworth was a mutant or a hypnotist, he certainly pulled a
sting on Eric.

"Honey" was a song sung by Bobby Goldsboro.

"Honeycomb" was a song sung by Jimmie Rogers.

Steve Chung
"The Man In The Review!"