Zombies May Be The Reason for Colony Collapse Disorder
One of the puzzling mysteries of nature are the disappearing honey bees. It's called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
Since 2006, beekeepers have noticed that the beehives they were maintaining slowly were disappearing. Bees were not returning to the hive. No one could explain the phenomenon and is being extensively researched by scientists.
Recently, researchers at the San Francisco State University may have discovered a clue to CCD. They found that honey bees may be hosts of a fly parasite, Apocephalus borealis. The fly deposits eggs into the bees abdomen. After being infected with the parasite, the bees leave their hives. fly out and congregate near lights in a dazed behavior; much like how zombies group up as depicted in movies.
"When we observed the bees for some time—the ones that were alive—we found that they walked around in circles, often with no sense of direction," said Andrew Core, an SF State graduate student from Hafernik's lab who is the lead author on the study.
He also adds that they have no idea how the fly is infecting the bees. It is assumed that it may happen during foraging but there is no conclusive proof to this. They plan to deploy devices such as tiny radio tags and video monitoring to help find out the reason and discover ways to protect the hives.
It is not determined that the parasite could be the cause for CCD. Other reasons such as a virus, pesticides or a fungus are also being considered.
Bees are important both ecologically and economically. They are significant to the agricultural sector. For the first time in over 70 years, the US is importing bees from Australia to alleviate the problem.