World news: Zombie bees spread in North America
Honey bees are highly threatened in America today. Due to various diseases and environmental factors bees are dying. As it seems help for pollinators is not in near sight. In addition, another enemy is spreading now.
Beekeepers in the U.S. are getting restless. Because not only as before on the west coast, in California, for example, you can find so-called zombie bees in their hives – but now also increasingly at the other end of the country, on the east coast.
The beekeeper Anthony Cantrell from the city of Burlington, Vermont, was the first that reported the strange bees. Six years ago, a research team led by biologist John Hafernik from the San Francisco State University was first observed honey bees, who behaved like a zombie.
This means that bees ran without apparent rhyme in a circle – although some were still alive, but could not move her legs properly. After all, at the end they simply died.
“I have the captured bees placed in a jar on my desk and forgotten about,” joked Hafernik six years ago about his discovery.” When I saw her the next time, there were many fly pupae by the bees around.”
Parasite uses bees as an incubator
The fly pupae and grubs were the key to the mystery: The honey bees were attacked by parasitic flies. They had laid their eggs in the body of the bee. And they were developing maggots ate mainly the nerve center of the bees slowly from the inside. This first showed neurological disorders, tried to fly about at night from the hive, and eventually died.
Apocephalus Borealis, at only two millimeters in size expectant humpback fly, is a parasitic insect that attacks mainly bumble bees, but also used wasps and honey bees just as a kind of incubator for their development. It is still unclear whether the zombies from the hive in Vermont are merely an individual phenomenon or whether the parasitic flies have been spread further.
Infected with viruses and parasites bees
The scientists from California are now trying to establish a connection to other bee diseases because both the bee and the maggot were already sick before the bee was a victim of the parasite.
Whether possibly just sick bees can be selected from the parasitic fly, whether the bees transfer the virus to the flies – or whether the pathogen has nothing to do with the parasitic process, however this is still unclear.