Ethical Eating

Zombie Honeybees Found in California

It may sound like some truly bad straight-to-DVD movie, but Scientific American is reporting the discovery of zombie honeybees in Northern California, which may provide a clue in the search behind colony collapse disorder.

A research article recently published in Plos One, a peer-reviewed science site, stated that the parasitic phorid fly was found to be using honeybees as parasitic hosts, laying eggs inside the bees.

The parasitized bees started to act strange -- venturing out of their

hives at night and moving in aimless circles -- like zombies -- before

eventually dying.

In a further creepy note, according to the Plos One article, "seven days

later up to 13 phorid larvae emerge from each dead bee and pupate away

from the bee."

Scientists at San Francisco State University are

looking into this phenomenon further and plan to track bees with radio

tags and video cameras to see how many bee colonies are being affected. 

It's estimated that up to 77 percent of bee colonies in the San Francisco Bay

area are being infiltrated by the phorid fly.

Honeybees are

natural pollinators and are crucial to farmers. In recent years,

the honeybee population has been decreasing due to colony collapse

disorder (CCD). According to the EPA,

colony collapse disorder's cause could be from pesticides, stress, or

pests. Research into the phorid fly could provide additional clues to understand and ultimately stop CCD.

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times, covering the restaurant and bar scene in South Florida. She has been featured on Cooking Channel’s Eat Street and Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race. Doss won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature on what it’s like to wait tables. In a previous life, she appeared off-Broadway and shook many a cocktail as a bartender at venues in South Florida and New York City. When she’s not writing, you can find Doss running some marathon then celebrating at the nearest watering hole.
Contact: Laine Doss