"Zombie bees" or bees that have been attacked by tiny flies that cause them to leave their hives and lurch earily like zombies before they die, have started to creep into Washington state.
John Hafernik of San Francisco State University said to NBC News that the bees basically eat the insides out of the bee. He first discovered the zombie bees in 2008 in California.
A novice beekeeper in Seattle, Mark Hohn told the AP that he returned to his house from vacation a few weeks ago to find many of his bees dead or flying in random jerky patterns then dying.
He collected several of the dead bees and a week later he had proof the bees were infected with the pupae of parasitic flies. "Curiosity got the better of me," Hohn said.
Hafernik's website, zombeewatch.org, recruits other like Hohn to track the infection around the country. Thus far zombie bees have been found in Oregon and South Dakota. Other areas of the West Coast have also been reportedly infected in Northern and Central California. His website said about the zombie bees, "They are honey bees that have been parasitized by the Zombie Fly Apocephalus borealis. Fly-parasitized honey bees become "ZomBees" showing the "zombie-like behavior" of leaving their hives at night on "a flight of the living dead"
A bee is infected with the fly parasite when an adult female fly lands on the back of a honeybee and injects eggs into the bee's abdomen. The eggs hatch into maggots and then the maggots pupate forming a hard outer shell. Then the adult flies emerge in three to four weeks.
There is yet to be evidence that the fly is a major cause in honeybee's decline however Steve Sheppard chariman of the entomology department at Washington State University said to the AP, "It may occur a lot more widely than we think."
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