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ZomBees are honey bees that have been parasitized by the zombie fly, Apocephalus borealis. Fly-parasitized honey bees are called "zombees" because they show the "zombie-like behavior" of leaving their hives at night in a disoriented state.
First a zombie fly has to lay its eggs inside of a honey bee. The eggs then hatch into larvae (maggots) and the maggots feed within the bee while it is still alive! As you can imagine this causes the honey bee to behave rather strangely. Eventually, the zombie fly maggots kill the bee.
Scientists call this a parasitoidal relationship (unlike parasites, parasitoids always kill their host). The zombie fly (parasitoid) benefits at the expense of the bee’s (host) life. Once they have eaten the insides of a bee, the maggots exit the bee and form pupae away from the now dead bee. Up to 15 maggots may come out of a single honey bee! It takes two to four weeks for the fly pupae to hatch into adult flies. Then they begin the cycle again.
Most honey bees you encounter will not be ZomBees. They will be buzzing around your garden exhibiting totally normal bee behavior. The easiest way to distinguish a regular honey bee from a ZomBee is to pay attention to their behavior.
ZomBees are often observed:
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