"Zombie Bees" Found In Washington State

By: Deborah Horne
By: Deborah Horne

There are zombies on the loose in Washington state -- well zombie bees anyway.

These honeybees are infected by a parasitic fly which makes them leave the hive at night, which is unusual.

The infection also makes the bees unable to fly and they die.

"So this is -- I've got a feeder."

Mark Hohn got in the beekeeping business just last April.

But a couple of weeks ago, he started reading about a parasitic fly that can infect honeybees and make them act strangely.

"I'd find some on the floor that were just barely crawling. Um, I found some that were very erratic on the floor. They couldn't fly. They were very disoriented."

And they were dying.

This is a recording he made of one of the dying, zombie-like bees.

So he bagged them up...

"It's got four bees and it ended up with three pupae in it."

And sent samples to university biologists at Washington State and San Francisco state.

The scientists confirmed that these honeybees were killed by the egg laying flies -- the first such deaths in this state.

"I don't know if it's one hive. If it's all the hives. Or anything. That's the hard part is quantifying how bad, how bad it is and what the effects will be."

The parasitic fly is native to North America and only recently started infecting honeybees, which were brought over from Europe.

Now Hohn wants your help figuring out if other honeybees have died this
way, too.

"If you find bees on a sidewalk, or under a street light or under your porch light, it's real simple. You take a Ziploc bag. You put the bees in. You leave 'em set for a week and see if anything happens."

Experts say the flies have been infecting other species for years, but this is the first time they've gone after honey bees.


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