October 11, 2016

Colony Collapse Disorder – Parasitic Fly Could be to Blame

A parasitic fly that hijacks the bees’ bodies and causes them to abandon their hives has been put forward as a possible explanation for Colony Collapse Disorder. Northern California scientists say the fly deposits its eggs into the bee’s abdomen, causing the infected bee to exhibit trance like behaviour, walking around in circles and then leaving the hive at night to die. This is what happens with Colony Collapse Disorder, in which all the adult honey bees in a colony suddenly disappear over night.

This research is another step in the right direction in finding the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder which is having a serious effect on the US bee industry. Research so far points to a combination of factors including pesticide contamination, a lack of the right food sources, mites, fungi, viruses and parasites.

Interaction among the parasite and multiple pathogens could be one possible factor in colony collapse, according to the latest study by researchers at San Francisco State University. It says the phorid fly, or apocephalus borealis, was found in bees from three-quarters of the 31 hives surveyed in the San Francisco Bay area. The combination of a parasite, pathogens and other stressors could cause die-off, lead investigator John Hafernik said. The parasitic fly serves as a reservoir that harbours pathogens ; honey bees from parasite-infected hives tested positive for deformed wing virus and other pathogens, the study found.

“We don’t fully understand the web of interactions,” Hafernik said. “The parasite could be another stressor, enough to push the bee over tipping point. Or it could play a primary role in causing the disease.”