Parasite Turning California Honey Bees Into Zombies

12:06 PM, Jan 4, 2012   |    comments
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  • Parasite Turning California Honey Bees Into Zombies
  • Parasite Turning California Honey Bees Into Zombies
  • Parasite Turning California Honey Bees Into Zombies
    

The San Francisco State biology professor and his students are studying parasite and prey.

Flies lay eggs inside honeybees,  they ate out the bee's muscles.
The maggots sneak out after the bees go berserk. They start walking around in circles, sometimes they stumble, almost fall over.

The infected bees do the unthinkable - leave their hives at night, and fly into light. Hafernik's found them dead on campus.
He doesn't know if they're protecting the hive from infection .. or under the control of the parasite.

The discovery was by accident in 2008. Hafernik collected bees to feed a praying mantis, but discovered there weren't just dead bees in the vials.

Hafernik's research team found the parasite in 80 percent of the 31 Bay Area beehives surveyed, except in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties.

Could the parasite help explain a several year decline in America's honeybee population?

"We're not prepared to say this is the explanation, but certainly can be part of it," said Hafernik.

Philip Gerrie, President of the San Francisco Beekeepers Association says it's too soon to tell.

cbs

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