Some say truth is scarier than fiction. I have to agree. When I read the recent news article about a parasite turning honeybees into “Zombies”, I wondered if there might be something to the zombie apocalypse hype after all.
Evidently, a parasitic phorid fly–Apocephalus borealis–hijacks the bees’ bodies, burrows into and nests in their stomachs, causing them to exhibit zombie-like behavior. The infected bees walk in circles, some pursue bright light, many lose the ability to stand on their feet, others flee their hives, and all of them eventually die. My first reaction to reading about this gruesome attack was…EW! My second was, Crap, yet another threat to our bees! and my third reaction was, Okay, so maybe the discovery is the missing link to understanding Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)–that mysterious phenomena taking out our honeybees.
This same, new, parasite is also attacking the bumblebee population. Scientists are studying whether or not this parasite is an additional stressor on the honeybee, contributing to CCD, or if it might actually be the primary cause of CCD. Whatever role it plays, one thing is for certain: we must, if we value all that is good in nature, all that is good on our dinner table, save our precious bees from turning into zombies.