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Is the Zombie Fly Apocephalus borealis the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder(CCD)?
CCD probably is caused by multiple contributing factors including pathogens, parasites and pesticides. Honey bees parasitized by Apocephalus borealis abandon their hive, a behavior associated with CCD. One of our goals is to determine how big a role, if any, the fly plays in hive losses in various parts of North America.
Is the Zombie Fly Apocephalus borealis responsible for the increased number of hive failures?
So far, Apocephalus borealis has not been proven to cause hive failures. Being infected with the fly is clearly not a good thing for honey bees, but at this point we don't know how large an effect the fly has on hive health.
What should I do if I think my honey bees have been parasitized?
You should join the ZomBee Watch as a Citizen Scientist by following the instructions on the website for collecting bees and rearing parasites.
Can I pick up honey bees with my hands?
No. It is safest to scoop the honey bee with a utensil or tool, or better to pick it up with forceps. We recommend that you do not touch any bee, alive or dead, when placing it in the container.
Are parasitized honey bees more aggressive than normal?
Stranded and parasitized bees are usually less aggressive but still have the ability to sting so always pick them up with forceps and place them in a sealed container.
Should I pick up dead honey bees as well?
Yes. But because we do not know how long they have been dead, we encourage you to keep dead bees separate and enter them as a separate sample (with DEAD designation in the comment field). We are mostly interested in stranded bees that are STILL ALIVE and moving.
Is it legal to collect stranded honey bees or bees that come to a light trap?
It is generally legal to collect honey bees from your property or from most public areas. Picking up stranded bees in these areas is perfectly fine. Always ask for permission before collecting on private property. Collecting honey bees in state and national parks and preserves requires a collecting permit.
Does the light trap hurt the bees?
Bees that leave their hives at night are usually disoriented and unlikely to return, so attracting them to a light trap is a way to collect them while still alive and test them for the deadly parasite that could be the cause of their nocturnal ZomBee behavior. You are helping out honey bees in general by documenting this important parasite.
Does the light trap cause honey bees to leave the hive that might otherwise stay inside?
It is possible that a light placed very close to a hive entrance will cause healthy bees to abandon the hive when they may not otherwise. We suggest that the light trap either be placed out of direct line of sight, or far enough away that it does not shine on a hive's entrance. If you are not a beekeeper then putting a light trap on your property is almost certainly not in the direct line of sight of a hive.
In submitting my sample, I'm asked to upload a photo of pupae. What are pupae?
A pupa (plural pupae) is the stage in a fly life cycle in which a wingless maggot transforms into an adult fly. It is equivalent to the chrysalis of a butterfly. Zombie Fly pupae are brown and pill-shaped.
Why do I need to upload images each time I submit a sample?
Your images document the particular organisms that you have sampled. They form a permanent record that can be checked against new information and new hypotheses. They are the equivalent to specimens in a traditional natural history museum.
What if my photo is fuzzy?
Try again or try a different camera. You may upload multiple images but please be sure to upload your highest resolution image as the final one. It is important that we can identify the host bee to be sure it is indeed a honey bee, and that we can verify the size of the adult fly.
What if nothing comes out of my bees?
No problem! Be sure that you waited the appropriate number of days for pupae to emerge (two weeks). We still need to know that nothing came out so please upload the number of flies (zero) in addition to the number of bees you collected.
If I find infected honey bees should I notify my neighbors?
The choice is up to you. If your neighbor is a beekeeper then by all means, let them know. They may want to join the project and collect stranded honey bees themselves. Other neighbors may also be interested in getting involved.
Besides the Zombie Fly, are there other species of phorid flies that I may find in honey bees that I sample?
Yes. If you collect dead honey bees, you may find Megascelia scalaris. It is a very common scavenger that feeds as a maggot on decaying organic matter including the dead bodies of honey bees and other animals.
Can the Zombie Fly infect or hurt humans?
The Zombie Fly only parasitizes insects and does not lay eggs on or in humans. As far as we know it does not transmit any diseases that are contractible by humans.
What should I do if I confirm that my hives are parasitized?
Keep calm and carry on. Remember that our current understanding is that the bees are infected outside of the hive and may not spread fly infections within. At this point, we do not know if the fly has a significant negative impact on colony productivity. Continue to use best management practices when working with your hive, control for mites and ensure that your bees are well nourished. This will give your bees the best chance of thriving in the face of the many parasites and pathogens that they deal with daily, including the zombie fly. Please continue to provide ZomBee Watch with periodic samples of fly parasitism in your hives so that we can learn about the timing and frequency of infection in your area.