Honeybee Population Threatened By Zombie Apocalypse?
Zombie bees have been spotted along Western and Eastern states, and they are threatening the bee populations of the region.
The Apocephalus borealis flies are believed to be laying eggs within bees' stomachs, like a leech, thereby controlling their behaviors. According to the researchers behind the study, after the flies deposit maggots into a bee's abdomen, it will leave its hive and fly around at night before falling dead.
Called "Zombie bees," volunteers are piling up in an effort to track its spread.
"We're not making a case that this is the doomsday bug for bees," said John Hafernik, a biology professor at San Francisco State University. "But it is certainly an interesting situation where we have a parasite that seems to affect the behavior of bees and has them essentially abandoning their hive."
The ZomBee Watch project, started by Hafernik in 2012, allowed citizen scientists document where Apocephalus borealis infestations were occurring around the country.
"Understanding causes of the hive abandonment behavior we document could explain symptoms associated with CCD," said Hafernik about the project in a 2012 paper. "Further, knowledge of this parasite could help prevent its spread into regions of the world where naïve hosts may be easily susceptible to attack."
It's still too early to assume the parasite flies are contributing to the wiping of the honeybee population.
"You know, the 'zombie' thing is a little bit sensational and some people hear that and they go right into alarm bells ringing," said Joe Naughton. He is a beekeeper of over 200,000 bees in New York.
Robert Mackimmie told the Associated Press "it's tough to be a bee these days." This is because 40 percent of colonies nationwide have already been lost.
And Ramesh Sagili agreed and said "We have several other stresses on bees and we don't want any other stress like this one. We have to be cautious, but I'm not alarmed that this parasite is going to create a big problem."
Although the honeybee population is unlikely to suffer from a zombie apocalypse, it truly is hard to be them nowadays. lil