The Flight of the Bumblebee was originally scored by Russian composer, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, in 1900 as an interlude in the Opera, The Tale of Tsar Saltan. In the tale, the Tsar is separated from his son and does not know his son is still alive. His long lost son is magically transformed into an insect, who can fly off to return to his father. The Flight of the Bumblebee is played at the end of the scene after the son transforms into an insect and accompanies the flight to return to his father. The interlude, which did not originally have a title, captures the energy and buzz of the bumblebee flight.
The Flight of the Bumblebee is inexorably linked to “The Green Hornet” which overshadows the context of the original opera. The original radio show used a jazz version of The Flight of the Bumblebee accompanied by a Theremin to create the buzzing sound. (The Theremin was invented by the Russian physicist, Theremin, and was the first electronic music device.) The distinctive theme song announced the beginning of each radio episode. The association between The Flight of the Bumblebee and the Green Hornet was so strong that the theme song was carried over to the TV show. The newest Green Hornet, the 3-D movie, does not make a complete break from Flight of the Bumblebee as theme song. About 30 seconds of Flight of the Bumblebee appear in the music score of the movie.