ZomBees may be in New Mexico | KOB 4

ZomBees may be in New Mexico

Eddie Garcia
July 31, 2018 10:22 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - There could be ZomBees in New Mexico.


The bees got their name from a biology professor at San Francisco State University after he noticed honeybees acting strangely on campus.

John Hafernik said the bees would walk erratically and come out a night, exhibiting what he calls “zombie-like behavior.”

He collected one of the bees in a jar and noticed something surprising.

“A week or so later, the maggots erupt from right about here on the bee,” Hafernik said.

It turns out, a small fly had laid eggs within the bee’s body.

Hafernik says the fly, called apocephalus borealis, is responsible causing the zombie-like behavior.

Since his discovery in 2008, he has established an online community called ZomBee Watch. They track the flies that cause the bees to act strangely.

“We know that the fly, a native fly, is found widely across North America, so it could be literally affecting honeybees across North America,” said Hafernik.

The flies could also have a huge impact beyond the bees.

"If this fly is causing major damage to honeybees, it could be a major economic impact,” said Hafernik.

Honeybees help plants that can't spread their pollen through the air. In fact, farmers rely on honeybees to keep their crops productive.

So far, there have been no confirmed ZomBee sightings in New Mexico, but at least one beekeeper says it’s possible her bees have been infected.

“I've had bees crawling around my hive that aren't able to fly,” said Amy Owen.

It's too soon to tell whether Owen has a ZomBee, but she now considers herself part of Hafernik’s Zombie Watch.

Hafernik will take a look at Owen's honeybee and should she should find out if it’s a ZomBee in a couple weeks.


Eddie Garcia

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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