As if the noble honey bee doesn’t have things hard enough as it is, with Colony Collapse Disorder, there is a new menace that is wreaking havoc on bees from coast to coast, and it almost seems to come from some “B-Movie Horror Flick! (no pun intended)
Bee keepers have found bees leaving the hive at night, in search of artificial light sources. This is odd, for a couple of reasons…First, Bees are blind, and rely on polarized light, or UV rays from the sun. Second bees are not overly fond of cool temperatures, but they have been reported to be out and about at times when frost is likely, or in wind and rain storms. Weather like this typically finds bees safe in the hive.
Once the bees have left the hive, and have found an artificial light source, they fall to the ground, and mill about as if they have had a few too many drinks, or have some sort of brain damage. Eventually the bees all drop dead… Now comes the creepy part!
A week later, the dead bees begin squirming, and rolling about on the ground, like something from a Saturday afternoon episode of “Creature Double Feature” (Remember watching WLVI 56 out of Boston?) until tiny little maggots burst forth from the head and thorax of the bee. Once they have excited the bee, they squirm away to become pupae, that will spin little red cocoons, and will eventually transform into Zombie Flies! (Apocephalus borealis)
So far Zombie Flies have not been discovered in hives in Maine, but they have been confirmed in Vermont, so it is only a matter of time before bee keepers in around here will discover their hives have been infected as well, and that could have a HUGE impact on Maine’s blueberry crop!
To find out more, and to see what you can do to help, check out ZomBee Watch.org