(Screenshot: Saturday Night Live/YouTube)

In 2014, Saturday Night Live presented a mock trailer for a film called The Beygency, in which Beyoncé fans literally run the world and haters are dealt with swiftly and severely. Exaggerated as it is, the sketch has some basis in reality. As writer Alyssa Bereznak describes in a piece for The Ringer called “Inside The BeyHive,” Beyoncé does have some incredibly devoted, industrious, and well-organized followers. The singer herself, despite being under constant media scrutiny and making her personal life an integral part of her art, is surprisingly cloistered and unreachable. Beyoncé rarely gives interviews, famously eschews press releases, and carefully guards details about upcoming projects. She doesn’t even tweet. Since nature abhors a vacuum, the singer’s fans are there to make sure that the internet is well supplied with news, promotion, speculation, and fawning praise about the most important entertainer on the face of the planet. The focus of Bereznak’s investigation is a popular and influential fan forum called TheBeyHive.com, currently being flagged by Google as a “deceptive” phishing site. The site’s supervisors are currently “trying to figure out” that warning, according to the article.

As Bereznak explains, the roots of Beyoncé superfandom go back to the early ’00s, that blighted era when the singer was merely part of Destiny’s Child. Once she shed her vestigial backup singers and became a solo star, a new online hub emerged called The Beyonce World. That site, originally praised by the singer’s camp, soon became blighted by a “Beyoncé-agnostic” tone and even published unflattering photos of the singer. True believers knew they had to form their own site, which they organized around a bee motif. Beyoncé herself is the “queen bee,” naturally, and her fans are divided into various other kinds of bees. “Worker bees” search tirelessly for new information about her and then disseminate the news online. “Honey bees” praise her endlessly. “Killer bees” go after haters. And so on.

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It’s a hierarchical, extremely organized fan base, and that’s what makes it work, according to Bereznak. The greatest threat to peace in the Beyoncéverse is when something like the infamous 2014 elevator incident between Jay Z and Solange Knowles occurs. It’s hard for fans to know how to react when the singer’s sister physically attacks the singer’s husband amid accusations of philandering. Simply staying off the internet for a few days until the storm blows over apparently isn’t an option.