Skip to comments.Vermont beekeepers face threat of 'zombie' bees; 1st time parasite found in Eastern US
Posted on 01/29/2014 1:21:36 PM PST by null and void
ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. Vermont beekeepers face mite infestations, extreme temperature swings and the possibility of colony collapse. Last fall, a new threat emerged: zombie bees.
John Hafernik, a professor from San Francisco State University, discovered the first zombie bees in 2008. A fly called Apocephalus borealis attaches itself to the bee and injects its eggs, which grow inside the bee, Hafernik said. Scientists believe it causes neurological damage resulting in erratic, jerky movement and night activity, "like a zombie," Hafernik said by phone Tuesday.
These aren't undead bees doomed to roam for eternity. They often die only a few hours after showing symptoms, Hafernik said.
The fly previously attached to bumblebees as hosts, not honeybees, according to Hafernik.
"It is seemingly kind of Biblical here," she said. "We're getting every conceivable kind of plague."
Given the way bee populations have become so homogenized and how they are shipped cross country to aid in pollenating, the first Eastern infection of the zombie fly makes sense, Berenbaum said.
New research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture released this month showed that a plant virus -- tobacco ringspot virus -- is now infecting commercial honeybees, Berenbaum said.
Leif Richardson, a doctoral student at Dartmouth College studies the interactions between plants, pollinators and parasites. Richardson said the fly involved in zombie bees could, besides using honeybees as hosts, potentially transmit viruses and pathogens.
Beekeepers "should definitely be concerned about it," Richardson said.
Hafernik said it would be a "game changer" if these flies could hatch from dead bees and complete their life cycle inside the hive, something that most worries Cantrell.
"I think it would be another nail in the coffin for honeybees in the northern hemisphere," Cantrell said.
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No point in denying this one...
LOL ya think?
and they vote, too:)
Robotic bees... there’s a horror movie waiting to happen.
The bottom line is that the beekeepers themselves are to blame for much of this predicament. By moving hives around, they spread disease.
The obvious solution is to use different bees for pollination than those used for honey production.
There are nearly 20,000 known species of bees in seven to nine recognized families. You would not think it impossible to use different kinds of bees for these tasks.
That’s roughly the equivalent of the Dutch demanding an increase in nutmeg production and a decrease in mace production.
I miss the analogy. While generic honey can come from just any available flowers, better honey comes from flowers of predominantly one type. And, as often as not, these flowers are not from food crops, but just regional plants.
While beekeepers take advantage of moving their hives to pollinate crops, over time it seems to be destroying their industry. So specializing in either honey bees or pollinating bees seems to be a logical outgrowth.
Importantly, since the pollinating bees would not primarily be wanted for their honey, the flavor of their honey would not matter, so in the off season, they could be fed a nutritious mixture of food to keep them healthy and more active for when they were needed for pollination.
Meanwhile, the honey bees would regain their regional character, and be far more protected from diseases and parasites.
The root problem is monoculture. Before modern agriculture farms would raise a variety of crops, and something or other would be in bloom at all pretty much all year. That meant local bees were always productive and could maintain local hives.
Now when we have an entire valley of almonds (which by-the-way make terrible honey) one needs far more bees for a brief period than could survive year round between almonds blossoming.
It means cheaper almonds, cherries, melons, whatever than vest pocket sized plots of each, but it also makes us vulnerable to a crop disease wiping out an entire industry.
I don’t know how we gracefully back out of this.
Oh, bee keepers feed bees high fructose corn syrup during the off season as it is. Corn syrup. Made from GMO corn. Corn modified to make its own pesticide...