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back to article Parasites spark swarm of ZOMBIE BEES

Researchers have found a type of parasite that turns bees into zombies, causing them to exhibit strange behavior before dying. The discovery was made by accident, after San Francisco State University professor of biology John Hafernik collected some bees he found outside his office so that he could feed them to a praying mantis …

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HMB
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"There have been a few reports of phorid flies opportunistically causing human myiasis."

*puts on best Star Wars Emperor voice*

Kill them, kill them all.

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This. A thousand times this.

I once saw a documentary where some poor bloke in Africa was pulling some sort of (very long) worm out of his leg by wrapping it around a stick. Since then, anything like that - even the thought of botflies - makes me want to puke in my shoes. Or possibly someone else's.

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Anonymous Coward

I concur. Parasites freak me out. Not much else does. Ive seen horrendous injuries, child birth and some gruesome burns, but the idea of a beastie getting inside me and eating me, truly terrifies me.

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@AC 09:43 GMT

I totally agree! And now tell me, what's the difference between a beastie eating you from the inside and being pregnant? *shudder*

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My Dear AC

There are doubtless all sorts of parasites and other beasties inside you and on you eating you. That's how nature is. But most of us manage to avoid large populations of the really unpleasant ones.

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guinea worm

<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dracunculiasis>

I'm with you on the profound grossness of it all. One of the many reasons I daily thank my luck for living in a society without that shit and so much more.

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Ru
Alien

"what's the difference between a beastie eating you from the inside..."

Easy... it is rather more difficult for guys to become pregnant than it is for them to become parasitised. Also, the brain-altering effects of parasites are seen after infection, whilst the brain-altering effects of human reproduction often precede pregnancy.

Now you may go and read up on Sacculina and think about how much worse life could be.

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Axe

IIRC

I think they are called Guinea Worms, I read about them years ago, they can be as long as your leg and they come out throught the top of your foot, if you pull them to hard they snap and die inside your leg but if you are gentle you can get them out a couple of CM a day (Hence wrapping them round a stick, couple of turns in the morning pulls it out slowly). They are mainly found in poluted water (wells and such like) and once the head comes through your skin they react to water and release eggs which then start the cycle again. fascinating but in the same league as bott fly for me, I remember the article everytime I get an itchy foot!

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Sacculina! dear god. inflation of 5%, and less holidays seems trivial now.

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Unhappy

not much

especially if it's from Alien....

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Unhappy

you think that's bad

do an internet search on the brain-eating amoeba... they seem to be all the rage these days.

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WTF?

Vodafone

Looks like Vodafone were closer to reality with their recent "Zombees" ad than they probably intended!

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Holmes

Fracking chestbusters!

How come these things are discovered by accident then found to infect 77% of the hives?

It is pretty astonishing, we can photograph the arsehair of a peacenik from orbit, then pull his telephone friend list from a data silo before we dispatch Mighty Guy In Blue armed with capsicum delivery systems for a hold&confront .. but bees are just the outer limits?

And mobes influencing bees? Yeah right.

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<Snitch>

Sir, sir, D-A-M used the banned m-word sir!

</Snitch>

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re: why has this not been spotted, with a 70% infection rate?

By way of a reply, I would guess because we’d not been looking, or we’d been looking at the wrong bees and for the wrong thing. Bees have a complex lifestyle, but once pupated and out of the cell they are “house bees” for the first section of their lives, not leaving the hive at all. Eventually they graduate to “guard bees” who hang around at the entrance, and then, having learnt where the hive entrance is, they go off and forage. They then forage for the rest of their short little lives, usually dying in the field.

It would seem this fly attacks foragers, while they out and about, not while in the hive. It’s difficult as an insect to get in to a hive (wasps try, and after a short spell will usually reappear as a corpse), if the colony is strong. A weak colony will soon be overrun with other colony’s bees, wasps, or any number of other nasties).

Usually when you open a hive, even to check for disease, you do so during the day when the foragers (i.e. the infected ones) would be off foraging. The majority of the bees you see are young house bees. You do this because there are less bees there, so it’s easier to see what’s going on, and you get stung less. It also tends to be warmer, so the bee brood (bee eggs, pupae, larvae) won’t chill too much.

If the infection causes disorientation, then infected bees can’t return to the hive, so they won’t be collected for any sampling. As a rule bees out and about are not caught for examination, you have no idea where they are from. I do think the light thing is a red herring though, I once took a hive on the back seat of my car, it tipped and burst open as I went round a corner. The bees, all 50,000 or so, were a bit upset and flooded out. It was night, and I absconded from the vehicle at high speed. The guy behind me stopped, and the bees all made for his headlights, so I could scoop them back into the hive fairly easily. So, I think they may do it anyway. They don’t usually fly at night, so bright lights probably just confuse them.

Standard disease checks don’t look for these things, the big ones are all “external” so you look at the brood, or for mites you can see on the bees (varroa) or elsewhere in the hive (hive beetles and wax moths). If you suspect an “internal” disease you ask for that to be looked for, or just grab some bees and open them up. BUT you look for the disease you think they have, such as nosema (spores in the gut) or acarine (pull off the head and look for black marks in the trachea).

HTH. Interesting work in any event.

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Choice of words.

77% of samples contained an infection, so it depends on what a sample was. If a sample was 100 bees and there were 100 samples there could be anything from 77 to 7,700 infected bees out of 10,000. Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics.

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Coat

"Sir, sir, D-A-M used the banned m-word sir!"

What, "mighty"?

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Black Helicopters

possibly??

"The guy behind me stopped, and the bees all made for his headlights,"

did you think to test all the bees in that hive for the parasite? they might have all been infected but you didn't know...

just saying.... ;-)

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Fair point, and one I had not considered. TBH I was preoccupied with sharing a car with 50,000 very angry bees ...

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You remember those things in "Star Trek II Wrath of Khan"...

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Joke

Resident weevil?

"Then the next time I looked at the vial, there were all these fly pupae surrounding the bees,"

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Pint

I can see what you did there

Have a beer...

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Anonymous Coward

Those are no zom-bees!

>"walked around in circles, often with no sense of direction"

>"stretching [their legs] out and then falling over"

Neither of those are really the defining characteristic of zombies, which is in fact "being raised from the dead under the control of an evil sorceror". What we have here are in fact the defining characteristic of drunks.

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Stop

Nope

The original Zombie derives from a subset of Ye Ol' Voodoo where some practitioners mixed herbs together to create a potion which would rob the recipient of their will, allowing the practitioner to order them around (ancestor to roofies?)

The recipient, having lost his will, would just shuffle about unless ordered to do something.

Hence the original image of the zombie being a glassy-eyed individual shambling towards the "victim". (see http://zombies.monstrous.com/voodoo_zombies.htm )

It wasn't until later that the concept of the Undead was mixed with Zombie - not surprisingly, in popular entertainment (i.e. movies and TV). And the rest, as they say, is annoying history.

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Whoops

Actually, http://neurophilosophy.wordpress.com/2006/05/24/voodoo-zombies-the-puffer-fish/ is probably a better read.

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Voodoo

There's quite a good Neil Gaiman short story (Bitter Grounds), somewhat on the theme of original zombies.

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Coat

But...

... can a bee be said to be or not to be an entire bee when half the bee is not a bee, due to some unsavoury larvae?

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Go

Eric!

Ho ho ho Tee hee hee

Eric the Half a Bee!

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Unhappy

Imagine if it was you

Some wee bugger slowly digesting you painfully from within, bursting forth, alien-style once you're practically dead.

A few weeks of that and I'd be so traumatised I'd be pretty deranged too.

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Sarah Bee

come back....

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Sarah Bee

Now you can imagine why she left the hive...

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Ugh - that is all...

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jai
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"I like my coffee like I like my women.... covered in bees!!!!!"

- E Izzard

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Sounds more like the behaviour is due to comfort and pain rather than zombiness!

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Happy

Simple TV for Zombies?

Zombeebies?

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@Silverburn

Sounds a lot like pregnancy & childbirth to me. The only difference between that and these parasites is that these parasites don't expect you to feed them for eighteen years then put them through university!

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And then buy them a car...and a wedding...and a mortgage deposit...

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What do you think happens to the bees that don't die...

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Coat

Wow, it's the Zombeepocalypse!

Thank you, thank you, you've been wonderful, I'm here all week, don't forget to tip your waitress, I'm outta here.

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