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Esther Fadlalla's List: Mythbusters

  • "If Bees Disappeared Off the Face of the Earth, Men Would Only Have Four Years Left To Live"... by EINSTEIN?

    We believe Einstein did not say this! Although it is very frequently stated that he did, there is no solid evidence to support that Einstein ever made that quote.
    Although it seems very "fancy" to believe it came from him, we agree that: "All in all, it looks like a classic case of a useful quote's being invented and put into someone famous' mouth."

  • False

    All the sources below are credible, stating that there is no evidence to support that Einstein made the quote. They all have proof of researching for evidence, however, have not found any.

    • Quote Investigator: There is no substantive evidence that Einstein ever made a remark of this type about bees. Alice Calaprice, the editor of the important collection “The Ultimate Quotable Einstein”, placed the saying in the “Probably Not by Einstein” section of her reference. 1


      The earliest evidence known to QI of a connection between Einstein and disastrous environmental scenarios caused by the disappearance of bees was published in the “Canadian Bee Journal” in 1941: 2


      If I remember well, it was Einstein who said: “Remove the bee from the earth and at the same stroke you remove at least one hundred thousand plants that will not survive.”

    • QI has located no supporting evidence that Einstein made the remark above. Instead, QI has determined that a statement of this type was made by the major literary figure Maurice Maeterlinck in his work “The Life of the Bee” in 1901. The saying was widely disseminated in the decades afterwards. Details are given further below.


      In 1966 “The Irish Beekeeper” published a comment ascribed to Einstein that presented the grim four year time limit for humanity. The journal cited a 1965 issue of a French periodical for beekeepers called “Abeilles et Fleurs” for justification of the attribution. This is the earliest evidence known to QI of a connection between Einstein who died in 1955 and the dire time limit: 3


      Professor Einstein, the learned scientist, once calculated that if all bees disappeared off the earth, four years later all humans would also have disappeared.
       Abeilles et fleurs, June, 1965.



        What is the purpose of this website? This blog records the investigatory work of Garson O’Toole who diligently seeks the truth about quotations. Who really said what? This question often cannot be answered with complete finality, but approximate solutions can be iteratively improved over time.

        Who uses this website? Articles on the Quote Investigator website have been cited by journalists and writers at The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Economist, The Washington Post, Slate, The Chicago Tribune, The Guardian, Real Clear Politics, The Jacksonville Times-Union, A Way With Words (Public Radio Program), ABC Television News, ABC (Australia), and more.

  • Dec 12, 13

    Evidence 1:
    "The compiler "The New Quotable Einstein" found no Einsteinian source for this quote and lists it as "probably not Einstein's"

    Evidence 2:
    "Einstein died in 1955. Assiduous research of a variety of databases of historical printed material (e.g. maganizes, books, newspaper) looking for the quote failed antedating 1994, when suddenly a pamphlet stating it showed up."

    Evidence 3:
    "Einstein was a physicist, not a botanist or entomologist."

    "All in all, it looks like a classic case of a useful quote's being invented and put into someone famous' mouth."

    • So it is with pardonable pride that beekeepers have been known to endorse quotes like the one attributed to Albert Einstein: “If the bee disappears from the surface of the Earth, man would have no more than four years left to live.”


      Now I must quickly say that there is no good evidence that Albert Einstein actually said this. In fact he most assuredly did not. All you have to do is google “Einstein bees,” and you’ll get the whole story: how this quote surfaced for the first time in the early 1990s, long after Einstein’s death, and in contexts far removed from the possibility of verification. Moreover, one must note the fact that, genius though he was, Albert was a physicist, not an entomologist, and everyone knows that it’s entomologists who are the real authorities on this matter.

  • True

    Despite that all the sources below are credible, stating that Einstein made the quote, none provide evidence to support he did.

  • Dec 12, 13


    seemingly "credible" source is stating that the quote is true.

    • Here's a quote from Albert Einstein: "if the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.
    • Bill Maher, host of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" (Fridays at 11:00PM)
  • Dec 12, 13

    another controversy.

    seemingly "credible" source states that Einstein made that quote.
    (however, shows no supporting evidence that he said it)

    • Einstein was right - honey bee collapse threatens global food security


       The bee crisis has been treated as a niche concern until now, but as the UN's   index of food prices hits an all time-high, it is becoming urgent to know   whether the plight of the honey bee risks further exhausting our food   security.   

    • Albert Einstein, who liked to make bold claims (often wrong), famously said   that "if the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, man would   have only four years to live".
    • “Once the bees have left the earth, man will have four years left on the planet.”


      The above statement is a paraphrase of a quote Albert Einstein made as he approached his death in 1955. The importance of bees' role in pollination within the food chain has been understood for quite some time. But the eeriness of this statement, made over 50 years ago, is that over the past two years many bee populations around the world have declined dramatically.


      Bees pollinate vast amounts of crops, flowers and plants necessary for the food chain to flourish. Einstein may have been referring to the possibility that man may not be able to grow adequate crops to feed the world without pollination

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