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Video does not show bees swarming in NYC because of giant hornets

May 7, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Video shows bees circulating en masse in New York City driven by Asian giant hornets. 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The bees were simply swarming, experts said. Only two Asian giant hornets have been reported in the U.S., and those were in Washington State, not New York. 

THE FACTS: On May 6, a video circulated on social media showing hundreds of bees flying outside a CTown supermarket in the Bronx, a borough in New York City. Posts circulating on Facebook with the video suggested the bees were fleeing Asian giant hornets. 

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“This right here ain’t a game betta pay close attention this is our bees … honey bees this is the Bronx and I tell u there running from something dem asian Killa Hornets was sighted in Washington less then a week ago there here in ny already trust we gotta a problem comin….” claimed one post highlighting the video. 

An Instagram post questioned whether the activity might be related to 5G wireless: “Why are the #bees running away in New York City? Is it #5G?” 

Fausto Ureña, a resident of the Bronx, told The Associated Press he recorded the video about 3 p.m. on May 5, on Valentine Avenue in the Bronx. He said the bees began gathering about 2 p.m. and circulated in the area for a long time.

“I think it was a change of hive because there is an abandoned building nearby,” Ureña said. 

Alistair Christie, a beekeeper for 18 years, told the AP in an email that bees naturally act this way in the spring. 

“The honeybees in the video are simply swarming,” Christie said. “This is something that they naturally do in the spring to spread their species.” 

“Perhaps there is an urban beekeeper nearby that keeps bees and the swarm has come from their hives,” he said. “Swarms can look dramatic with lots of flying bees. They usually settle somewhere for a few hours, send out scouts to find a new home, then they all leave and move into the new home together.”

In April, Washington State warned of Asian giant hornet sightings. Asian giant hornets, which have been dubbed “murder hornets,” can attack and kill a honeybee colony within hours, the AP reported.

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The hornets have not been spotted in New York.

Chris Looney, an entomologist with the Washington State Department of Agriculture, told the AP in an email that there have been no sightings of Asian giant hornets outside of Washington, and that only two have been reported there in late 2019.

“There haven’t been any confirmed AGH sightings outside of our corner of the country, and we only had two!,” Looney said. “All several hundred images sent to us are either European hornet or something else.”

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/195230715813153