As if Honeybee Hive Collapse Disorder alone wasn’t enough.
Now we have to contend with…
ZOMBIE HONEY BEES!!
A fly parasite that latches onto honeybees causing them to abandon their hives and die after a bout of disoriented zombie-like behaviour could be a potential threat to honeybee colonies across North America, according to researchers at San Francisco State University.
John Hafernik, a biology professor at San Francisco State University, collected some dead bees from the ground underneath lights around the University’s biology building. “But being an absent-minded professor,” he noted in a prepared statement, “I left them in a vial on my desk and forgot about them.” He soon got a shock. “The next time I looked at the vial, there were all these fly pupae surrounding the bees,” he said. A fly (Apocephalus borealis) had inserted its eggs into the bees, using their bodies as a home for its developing larvae. And the invaders had somehow led the bees from their hives to their deaths.
In other words, the fly deposits its eggs into a bee’s abdomen. After being parasitized by the fly, the bees abandon their hives, often at night, to congregate near lights. Bees that left the hives at night were more likely to have the parasite than those that foraged during the day.
“When we observed the bees for some time — the ones that were alive — we found that they walked around in circles, often with no sense of direction… they kept stretching [their legs] out and then falling over,” said Andrew Core, biology graduate student at San Francisco State University and co-author of the study. “It really painted a picture of something like a zombie.”
(Eeeww, gross! Apocephalus borealis fly larva emerges from a host honey bee)
After about seven days, fly larvae push their way out from between the bee’s head and thorax. Kinda like that scene in Alien! Usually bees just sit in one place, sometimes curling up before they die.
Researchers aren’t sure how to prevent the parasitization because it’s not clear where the flies are latching onto the bees. It’s likely that it’s happening when the bees are foraging because flies aren’t hanging around the beehives, said Hafernik.
OK… it’s gross for the bees but so what. There are tons of examples of insects planting their tiny tots-to-be inside other insects.
Well… I am so glad you asked!
Genetic testing of parasitized hives showed that both bees and flies were often infected with a deformed wing virus and a fungus called Nosema ceranae. Some researchers have pointed to the fungus and virus as the potential catalysts in colony collapse disorder. Hive abandonment is the primary characteristic of the disorder.
Aha!! I knew it. Zombies are behind Colony Collapse Syndrome. Similar to a real life zombie apocalypse which brings about a societal collapse and causes non-infected humans to flee cities, so too a zombie infestation in a bee hive causes its own society collapse resulting in abandonment of the hive. Or at least, that is one possible theory.
All the more reason to be prepared, people, for The Upcoming Zombie Apocalypse!
So far, the fly parasite Apocephalus borealis has only been found in honeybee hives in California and South Dakota.
But this is no reason to become complacent.
Get a kit. Make a plan. Be prepared!
What you don’t know… can eat you!