Over the last few years, bees have suffered a significant decline throughout the United States. Threatened by pesticides, human ignorance, climate change, and pests, the bee population continues to suffer while scientists still need to come up with a solution.
Some beekeepers have recently discovered a new type of parasite that makes honeybees turn into some kind of zombies. The event occurred in Virginia at an hour distance of Roanoke. However, further research is needed to establish how dangerous this parasite is and how many honeybees are killed throughout the country.
This new parasite is a fly which attaches itself on a bee, and it lays its eggs inside the host. This causes bees a behavior change making them fly towards the light and during night time when bees stop their activity. Unfortunately, it is a matter of a few hours until the infested honeybees die.
Nevertheless, the fly larvae feed on the bee’s carcass, and they emerge out of it after a few days. This incident previously occurred in 2008 in California, so it is not a first time. Back then, this fly spread in a couple of states such as New York, South Dakota, and Oregon.
According to biology professor John Hafernik from San Francisco State University, scientists have not established yet if this parasite is a leading cause of the honeybees decline. The United States agriculture industry makes billions of dollars every year thanks to honeybees, so they play a significant role in the economy of the country.
Unfortunately, honeybees have already many enemies including Colony Collapse Disorder, a phenomenon caused by bees that disappear from their hives or it makes bees just abandon them. Plus viruses and mites delivered a severe blow to honeybees’ population over the last few years.
Lynn Berry, 50, from Collinsville, Virginia, is one of the beekeepers that observed this strange behavior in bees. After learning about this parasite from a local bee club, Berry noticed that some of his bees started flying around a garage light during the night and then died.
Fortunately, he collected the dead bees in a jar and covered it with cheesecloth. A few days later, Berry observed maggots bursting out of the carcasses. Therefore, he immediately called California scientists, who started a thorough investigation that would hopefully help them solve the mystery of bee zombies.
Image Source:Future Bees