'Zombie Bees' Turn Up in Washington State

Parasite makes them fly at night before dying

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 25, 2012 5:58 PM CDT

(Newser) – Maybe the only positive thing in this story from the Seattle Times is that the name "zombie bees" is sure to draw attention to the problem. A local beekeeper has found Washington state's first documented case of the "zombie bees," which refers to a deadly parasite infecting the insects. It causes them to fly erratically at night, often around lights, before dying. The infections are widespread in western California since being discovered there in 2008, and lesser cases have been reported in Oregon and South Dakota. (Only one in the latter.)

"I joke with my kids that the zombie apocalypse is starting at my house," the beekeeper tells the newspaper. The problem is a parasitic fly that that lays its eggs inside the bee. It remains unclear what, if any, role the parasite is playing in the decline of bee colonies nationwide, but this website has been set up to track cases and provide information.

This is a non-zombie bee in New York state.
This is a non-zombie bee in New York state.   (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
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