Monday, September 24, 2012

Washington state's first 'zombie bees' reported

Sept. 24, 2012 - SEATTLE (AP) -- 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 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. 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.


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