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Honeybees Threatened By Flies – Possible CCD Contributor

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The recent finding of a parasitic phorid fly implanting eggs within a bee’s abdomen has jumbled pinpointing the exact cause of Colony Collapse Disorder even more. Researchers attempting to identify the primary contributor of the rapid decline of North American bee colonies will add another factor into their equation.

The fly activity was noticed on honeybees in South Dakota and California. Scientists have observed the result of an affected bee is a “zombie-like” demeanor that causes the bees to abandon the hive and die. The maggots mature inside the body in about a week and slowly consume the bee within the process. The larvae will liquefy the bee’s insides and eventually burst from the abdomen to pupate.

The reason for the bees to leave the hive is elusive. Some possibilities include the maggots controlling the bee’s gene expression that alters their circadian rhythm to encourage a fatal night flight. Another theory is the affected bee will commit “altruistic suicide” to spare the rest of the colony.

Specialists have advised beekeepers that the severity of the problem has not yet been confirmed. Further investigation will reveal the potentiality of this issue. As of now, there is no proof linking the fly to significant hive losses, only a discovery of parasitic behavior associated with a symptom of Colony Collapse Disorder.

Bees and flies have coexisted in North America for many years, so new relationship behaviors are unlikely. However, if these flies are introduced to other continents, the relationship with native bees there may differ. If non-native bees in North America are affected by the fly, then this issue will significantly impact agriculture in those areas.

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