There’s a lot of buzz (Ha!) in the blogosphere about whether Albert Einstein really made the statement “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years left to live.”

In this blog, they say he was speaking in regard to the symbiotic relationship of all life on the planet–should any part of the global body suffer, so does the whole body. This lead to a really interesting discussion by the wikipedia authors of the CCD page, which I’ve included below.

I have to agree with the Wiki editors–I can’t find an original source citation anywhere.

Just because it was a Physicist that said it, though, I don’t discount it. There are lots of famous beekeepers that were also scientists. Aristotle, Pythagorous, Gregor Mendel, Ben Franklin, and Sir Edmund Hillary are some names that spring to mind. (I guess Sherlock Holmes doesn’t quite count.)

It makes for a nice story, and I’d like to imagine Einstein fiddling with hives in the summer….

From Wikipedia discussion:
“Despite the unsourced quotes in your references above, there is still some question if the quote is authentic. See: Einstein biographer unaware of Einstein’s Bee quote [5] and a political comedian using the quote in his monologue is certainly not proof that it was attributed to Einstein. – 14:40, 29 April 2007 (UTC)

I have certainly found the citation in German on a quotes site at [6} which is clearly attributed to German born Albert Einstein. “Wenn die Biene einmal von der Erde verschwindet, hat der Mensch nur noch vier Jahre zu leben. Keine Bienen mehr, keine Bestäubung mehr, keine Pflanzen mehr, keine Tiere mehr, kein Mensch mehr.” However, the page does not provide a context for it.

Albert Einstein was a strong advocate of Socialism. In his 1949 Monthly review article “Why Socialism?”[7] he contrasts humans and bees and their fixed social behavior “It is evident, therefore, that the dependence of the individual upon society is a fact of nature which cannot be abolished — just as in the case of ants and bees. However, while the whole life process of ants and bees is fixed down to the smallest detail by rigid, hereditary instincts, the social pattern and interrelationships of human beings are very variable and susceptible to change.” …It would not surprise me at all if he looked at nature for many answers to his questions. 14:23, 3 May 2007 (UTC)

I found several references to a short form of the Einstein quote “No bees, no food for mankind. The bee is the basis of life on this earth.” [8] This page was created in 2003. 15:13, 3 May 2007 (UTC)

Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!



    Submited post on – “Did Einstein really talk about Bees?”

  2. what a delightful blog!
    love the little critters as long as they don’t bite and eat through my floor boards and don’t make a home in the hardware!

    I’ve heard it said that Einstein spoke of insects – not bees and the ruin
    of all species if they disappeared
    No source – only BBC World prog and or
    national geographic dockies. mentioned this – i might have
    heard incorrectly
    Would be nice to ask his wife
    if he said this or not! But alas i think she’s no longer alive.
    She had a lot to do with him coming up
    with E=MC squared and didn’t credit her for – it old sod
    and he was one of the scientists involved in splitting the atom wasn’t he?!
    Which lead to the atom bomb and Hiroshima and Nagasaki being
    flattened and hundreds of thousands dieing not to mention the slow
    agonising death from radiation sickness and cancer

    To day is the anniversary of the first atom bomb being detonated over Hiroshima

    i have a brilliant post card with Mrs Einstein handing Mr E a cup of tea
    with her apron on and as she puts the cup on the table next to him where he’s working
    she’s turned towards his ear and the bubble says
    “why don’t you try e= mc squared dear”
    now were is that card……..?

  3. Thanks! I’m troubled by the fact that while it’s repeated often, there is no actual source ever given.
    It sounds like one of those things that’s a good story….but probably not true.

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