The Honeybee Conspiracy


This much is true: Honeybee colonies in the U.S. have been disappearing for the past few years. Between 50% and 90% of hives have been destroyed since 2004. This is a major problem because these bees pollinate at least 19 kinds of fruits, vegetables and nuts—the downstream effects of their disappearance could be devastating.

But this doesn’t exactly guaranteee the end of human life on earth, as conspiracy theories suggest. Some activists have blamed the honeybee drop on the genetic modification of crops or global warming, and cited a probably fictional Albert Einstein quote to add some weight to their claims. Because, you know, if Einstein said honeybee loss would bring about the apocalypse, then it’s definitely true.

Now Penn State scientists have found that the colony loss may be traced to a virus that was first identified in Israel, but originated in Australia. The loss of colonies started happening once U.S. beekeepers began importing Australian bees. But the Aussie beekeepers doubt their stock is the cause of all the trouble, noting that they’ve been sending bees to Canada for 15 years, and all’s well up there.—Gregory Mone