Bug Blog

Zombie Bees

Zombie Bees

Bees, our crucial pollinators, have rapidly declining in the past few years because of nutritional deficiencies due to loss of habitat, as well as a mysterious colony collapse disorder that causes an entire colony to fail functioning after its adult worker bees disappear. And now there’s a new attack against the bee population. Be on the lookout for zombie-like bees in your area! Bees throughout the U.S. are being infected by the parasite Apocephalus borealis. The parasite is carried by flies, which they use to make infected bees do their bidding. Scientists aren’t sure that these new zombie-lie infections are related to colony collapse disorder, but the situation doesn’t look good for the bee population.

These flies lay their eggs in inside the bees to turn them into a host for their offspring. Once a bee has been infected it begins to act very oddly, almost zombie-like. The bees will leave their hives, act disoriented, and eventually die. John Hafernik, the entomologist that discovered the parasite, created an initiative called ZomBee Watch, in which people are asked to capture any infected bees they come across in a jar, and upload photos of when the pupae of the flies emerge from the bee. The initiative was designed to keep track of areas where bees are infected, and show how it may be spreading.

Have you seen any bees exhibiting zombie-like behavior? Are you going to keep a watch out for bees acting strange so we can track the spread of this infection?