What are Zombie Bees? Do they really exist?

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Zombies are ghosts with supernatural powers in folklore. Although they only exist in myths, legends, and movies. They often have supernatural power. There is indeed a zombie-like phenomenon in nature, such as zombie ants, zombie bees, zombie snails, etc. The “zombie bee” (Apocephalus Borealis) is one of them. Let’s find out if zombie bees really exist.

Do zombie bees really exist?

Zombie bees do exist. Zombie bee is a kind of parasite fly infected bees. They have an unusual behavior like zombies. The adult female parasitoid flies lay their eggs in the bee’s stomach. The eggs become maggots in the bee’s body and pupate after eating up the bee’s internal organs.

In 2008, biologist John Hafernik of the State University of San Francisco discovered zombie bees for the first time.

Dr. John Hefernick pointed out the larval infection of European bees in North America. He proved it from the dead bees he found at his university. He put those bees in a jar and closed it. About a week later, larvae came out from the bees’ bodies.

Dr. John Hefernick talking about zombie bees

Later, the “zombie bee” was found in Oregon, Florida, and other places in the United States. In September 2012, Washington State confirmed the presence of “zombie bees.”

How do zombie bees form?

The main culprit of turning bees into “zombies” is a parasitic fly called “flea fly.” The “flea fly” lays its eggs in the bee’s abdomen. The eggs of flies grow on the brains of bees and decompose the tissues inside the bees cruelly.

Once the parasite lays eggs in the body, its behavior will become like a “zombie.” After 7 days, 25 hatched fleas will climb out of each bee’s head and chest. After the eggs hatch, the bees will die within 5 minutes.

How do zombie bees get infected?

Parasitic flies are highly infectious. Most of their eggs are produced in crops. Once bees collect pollen from flowers, they are easy to be attached to the parasitic fly eggs. When the eggs hatch, they will parasitize the bees and live on the body of bees.

When the parasitic flies grow up, they will invade the head of bees and control the bees. These controlled bees will suddenly lose consciousness, and they will fly everywhere. This is the so-called “zombie bee.”. Thus, bees that wander or show some strange behavior will eventually curl up their body and die.

What’s the harm of zombie bees?

The presence of zombie bees reduces the number of bees to a certain extent.

It has also been found that this parasite can reduce the bee’s lifespan by up to 70%.

Zombie bees have been suggested as a point responsible for the disorder of colonial collapse. However, there is not enough evidence to prove that “zombie bees” are the main cause of the colony collapse disorder.

If you find dead bees, it is important to be extra alert. Here we recommend that you separate the dead bees and keep them as a sample. It is important to come to conclusions.

However, the harm of this parasite to bees is still relatively large. Scientists are still in the process of further understanding this parasite. They say that if parasites affect other beings besides bees, then humans may also be listed. Seen that way, the prophecies about zombies may come true.

The Department of Biology at San Francisco State University maintains a website to study these zombie bees as a citizen science project.

On their website, they have mapped the recorded areas of these zombie bees. The map marks the infected bees, the non-infected bees, and the areas where the sampling in progress. This information is marked on the map using samples submitted by beekeepers.

ZomBee Infection Map

Watch zombee infection mapHere

Join the zombee watch projectHere

What do you do when stung by a bee? Please read it here.

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