Tags: US | Zombie | Bees | washington

Washington State's First 'Zombie Bees' Reported

Monday, 24 Sep 2012 03:31 PM

 

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink

Washington state's first "zombie bees" have been reported in Kent.

Novice beekeeper Mark Hohn returned home from vacation a few weeks ago to find many of his bees either dead or were flying in jerky patterns and then flopping on the floor. He later learned they had a parasite that causes bees to fly at night and lurch around erratically until they die.

The infection is called "zombie bees."

"I joke with my kids that the zombie apocalypse is starting at my house," Hohn told The Seattle Times.

San Francisco State University biologist John Hafernik discovered the infection in California in 2008.

Hafernik now uses a website to recruit citizen scientists like Hohn to track the infection across the country. Observers have found zombie bees in California, Oregon, South Dakota, and, now, Washington.

Zombie bees also are being studied by Steve Sheppard, chairman of the entomology department at Washington State University.

The infection is another threat to bees that are needed to pollinate crops. Hives have been failing in recent years due to a mysterious ailment called colony collapse disorder, in which all the adult honey bees in a colony suddenly die.

Hohn had remembered hearing about zombie bees, so when he discovered the dead bees at his 1.25-acre spread, he collected several of the corpses and popped them into a plastic bag. About a week later, Hohn had evidence his bees were infected — the pupae of parasitic flies.

The life cycle of the fly that infects zombie bees is reminiscent of the movie "Alien," the Times reported. A small adult female lands on the back of a honeybee and injects eggs into the bee's abdomen. The eggs hatch into maggots.

"They basically eat the insides out of the bee," Hafernik said.

After consuming their host, the maggots pupate, forming a hard outer shell that looks like a fat, brown grain of rice. That's what Hohn found in the plastic bag with the dead bees. Adult flies emerge in three to four weeks.

There's no evidence yet that the parasitic fly is a major player in the bees' decline, but it does seem the pest is targeting new hosts, Sheppard said. "It may occur a lot more widely than we think."

That's what Hafernik hopes to find out with his website, zombeewatch.org. The site offers simple instructions for collecting suspect bees, watching for signs of parasites and reporting the results.

Once more people start looking here, the number of sightings will probably climb, Hohn said.

"I'm pretty confident I'm not the only one in Washington state who has them," he said.


© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Country
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

US NOAA: Last Month Was Hottest August Since 1880

Thursday, 18 Sep 2014 12:03 PM

Last month was the hottest August on record for global average temperatures over land and ocean surfaces, the US Nationa . . .

New Research Suggests King Richard III Suffered Traumatic Death

Thursday, 18 Sep 2014 10:55 AM

New research published in The Lancet medical journal indicates that Richard III, last of England's Plantagenet kings and . . .

Google Wants to Fly Drones Over New Mexico

Tuesday, 16 Sep 2014 14:28 PM

Google is planning to begin testing drones in a virtually uninhabited area of New Mexico in pursuit of providing interne . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, NewsmaxWorld, NewsmaxHealth, are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved