Scientists at the University of Washington have discovered that the cause of massive honey bee deaths is not a fungus or virus as previously thought, but is in fact due to the intentional sabotage of hundreds of thousands of children armed with fly swatters.
The sudden disappearance of worker bees from colonies across North America known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has been mystifying scientists since 2006. Many theories have been put forward to try to explain the phenomenon; scientists have explored a variety of explanations ranging from cell phone radiation to synchronized swan assaults. However, researchers overlooked the simplest explanation: frightened children.
Scientists at the UW teamed with local beekeepers to solve the mystery, using tiny radio-controlled helicopters equipped with cameras to tail groups of worker bees out of their hives all through town. On the third day of surveillance, the scientists were aghast to witness hundreds of bees mercilessly slaughtered by school children as they flew through an elementary school yard.
For the following eight weeks, researchers watched similar scenes unfold throughout the Sound in hundreds of playgrounds, parks, and backyards. Thousands and thousands of innocent bees buzzing around pollinating flowers and collecting nectar, were suddenly and violently struck down by toddlers and grade-schoolers.
Following their startling findings in the Puget Sound, the study was expanded to dozens of universities across the country, with similar results observed everywhere the bees were monitored. Sometimes a mob of children would rush the bees with fly swatters, while other times the kids would explode in a schizophrenic stomp-fest, squishing the hapless insects beneath their Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants-themed sneakers.
Although children in every part of the nation used disturbingly similar methods, their actions appeared to be spontaneous, rather than part of a centrally-organized campaign.
Now that the mystery of the bee deaths has been solved, research will shift to methods of preventing further damage in the future. Possible methods include arming bees with child-paralyzing chemical weapons or merely giving the murderous children a stern talking to.