With all of the speculation over the root of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), recently a new wrench has been thrown into the machine. You may have heard about the parasite that can turn “bees into zombies”. Well, it’s not quite like that, but the phorid fly (Apocephalus borealis) definitely makes the bees do things that are very creepily uncharacteristic.
The flies embed themselves in the abdomen of a bee. When the eggs hatch (inside the bee), the bee is then compelled to fly out of the hive at nighttime and is attracted to lights. A few hours later, it dies. Five to seven days after death, phorid larvae can be seen exiting the corpse. The phorid fly does not just go after honey bees, counting yellowjackets, black widow spiders and even bumble bees as hosts. Actually, it was discovered in bumble bees first.
Could this explain the, “they were here, and then they just weren’t” that beekeepers all over the world have stammered? Who knows, but it does seem like a compelling argument. I have heard of beekeepers saying that their colonies have disappeared during the daytime also, so if this was motivated by phorid flies, I don’t know.
Last year, approximately 26 percent of beekeepers reported to the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA) and the US Department of Agriculture that at least some of their colonies had mysteriously died of CCD.
What are your thoughts on the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder and specifically the phorid fly? Will this change your hive management in any way?