herald

Friday 17 November 2017

'Zombie' flies are killing off our bees

A MYSTERIOUS phenomenon that has decimated honey bee populations could be linked to a "zombifying" parasitic fly, scientists believe.

Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is marked by the sudden disappearance of worker bees from a colony.

It was first recognised as a serious problem by US beekeepers in 2006, but has also affected bee colonies across western Europe. In some of the recorded cases, bee losses have reached levels of up to 90pc.

Viral and fungal infections and toxic chemicals in pesticides have all been suggested as possible explanations for CCD.

The new theory involves the parasitic fly Apocephalus borealis which is already known to attack bumble bees.

The insect lays its eggs in the abdomens of bees, which start displaying "zombie" behaviour, abandoning their hives en masse to congregate near lights.

Finally they die, and the fly larvae emerge from their bodies.

hnews@herald.ie

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