Parasite Causes Honeybees to Become Zom-Bees

Published 02/05 2014 11:19AM

Updated 02/05 2014 11:22AM

(WPTZ) Call them the "flying dead," but Anthony Cantrell's zombie bees are no joke for the Vermont beekeeping industry.

Cantrell, a Burlington beekeeper, said he noticed about 30 of his bees acting strangely in October. He sent them away for testing after discovering a program called ZomBee Watch. The results were positive -- the first batch of ZomBees discovered in New England.

Vermont's state entomologist, Alan Graham, said he couldn't believe it.

"I hadn't even heard of the term zombie bees," said Graham, who works for Vermont's Agency of Agriculture.

Zombie bees are created by a parasitic fly that lays eggs in the honeybee's stomach.

"The eggs would hatch and the parasites would grow in the abdomen,and it triggers a behavior in the honeybee which is very unusual that makes the honeybee decide that it wants to fly at night," said Graham.

The infected bees also move erratically.

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