Tuesday, 30 October 2012

ZOMBIE BEES - have you heard of them?

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." 

Pretty bizarre behaviour. Normally they do not fly at night. I've had huge bumblebees in a groundhog hole in a nest near my veggie garden back in the olden days. It was a trick to try to work with them there. The guard bees would buzz me.

ZomBee Watch was initiated as a follow-up to the discovery that the Zombie Fly Apocephalus borealis is parasitizing honey bees in California and possibly other areas of North America. The Zombie fly lays the egg in the bee, the maggot emerges, pupates and then becomes a new Zombie Fly Adult. You can (of course!) watch a video of all this.

 Honey bees infected by the Zombie Fly leave their hives at night and are attracted to nearby lights where they become stranded and eventually die. The presence of fly larvae in up to 18% of active foragers in some California honey bee hives makes the Zombie Fly a potential contributor to hive declines.


Olga said...

I had never heard of these ZomBees. Interesting.

Kay L. Davies said...

How dreadful for the bees.

Farida said...

Wow! I've never seen a bee this close. I hope it was behaving when you were trying to document it :)

Red said...

Just had a talk on ants. Was surprised to find that parasitism is common amongt bees.