A few years ago there were rumors floating around all over the internet about honey bees dying of a mysterious illness.  The bees however, left no bodies behind in the hives.  They just disappeared, presumed dead.  Colony collapse disorder, as it came to be known, stirred up a panic among many people.  And with good reason.

pael spelle honey bee comb and bees
Honey bee colony & comb, sans hive. Photo by: Pael Spelle

One third of our food supply need bees to pollinate.  Beyond that if honey bees died off then a lot of the wild plants that depend on bees to pollinate the species would die off as well.  The animals who eat those plants to survive would start to die off, and so it goes all of the way up the food chain.  If the food supply is cut that deeply, it would be catastrophic.  Starvation would become even more of a threat in 3rd world countries and in major world powers food prices would skyrocket causing major economic problems that would change the world as we know it.  What is behind this threat to the world you ask?  What is causing the death of honey bees?

Well, what if I told you that one of the problems is that honey bees are now becoming zom-bees in some places.  A parasite known as Apocephalus borealis has been causing bees to lose control of their bodies, fly at night when they would normally be in the hive and pretty much eating them from the inside out.  A website, ZombieWatch.org is tracking the spread of the Zombee parasite by having its members act as Zombee hunters and collect samples for scientists to study in order to identify the spread of the parasite.  The epidemic might have gone unnoticed if it were not for an accidental discovery by Dr. John Hafernik of San Francisco University.  He noticed disoriented bees drawn to a light outside his office and collected some to feed to his praying mantis. (Yeah, I know, kinda mad scientist like… I bet he has one of those huge Tesla coils in his lab attic at home!)  An yway, he left the bees in a vial on his desk for a couple of weeks (hope he feeds his dogs more often than his praying mantis…) when he remembered them.  When he went to get them, he found the parasites covering the vial.  It seems these things land on the bees back, find a soft spot and insert eggs into the bee.  When the eggs hatch, the larva eat the bees alive from the inside.

If the population of Apocephalus Borealis, the “Zombee parasite” keeps growing we are in big trouble.  While we have come a long way with technological advances, the things we take for granted like, oh say, the food chain, are not completely under our control.  The average modern human is far disconnected from nature and the basic buidling blocks of our very survival as a species.

Go plant some sunflowers… and buy some local honey… we need to encourage more honey bees.  If I am going out in a zombie apocalypse, I at least want the zombies involved to be big enough and slow enough that I can take them out with a head shot from a .45.

– Doug Ward

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