Like all teens, Varun Madan gets distracted from his homework. One evening, rather than reading about butterflies for a school assignment, he accidentally tumbled down an internet rabbit hole of honeybee research. That detour led the Orlando teen to compete in one of the biggest middle school science fairs in the United States this week, armed with his plan to save the world’s bee colonies from total collapse.
Madan, now in the ninth grade, will tell you all about how bees pollinate billions of dollars’ worth of agricultural crops around the world. He will also explain they’re dying at an alarming rate, a mysterious phenomenon called “colony collapse” driven by disease, pesticides, and poor nutrition. But most importantly, he’ll tell you about a discovery he made about the guts of bees that just might prevent their demise.
“It’s been going on for a really, really long time,” Madan tells Inverse. “There’s so many unsuccessful things that people have tried for this.” His entry to the Society for Science and the Public’s Broadcom MASTERS science fair in Washington, D.C. this month was his plan to save them.
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