Flies attacking honeybees adding to concerns over bee population loss.
Amateur beekeeper Joe Naughton of Hurley New York, who discovered the Husdon Valley cases commented, “You know, the ‘zombie’ thing is a little bit sensational and some people hear that and they go right into alarm bells ringing. Where the state of things are right now is mostly just fact finding.”
There are a lot of facts yet to be found and work is continuing to determine if the flies pose a greater threat to the honeybee population. Hafernik points out this phenomenon may have been occurring for a very long time before anyone started to notice, but reports of honeybees circling night lights in zombie-like fashion have only recently been noticed.
Loss of the honeybees is a great concern to many scientists and beekeepers around the globe already. Last winter, the US Agricultural Research Service’s annual bee survey estimated that 23.7 percent of bee colonies were lost to a variety of reasons.
One report says the honeybee colonies in the US have dropped from 5 million in the 1940’s to about 2.7 million today. In May, the Obama administration released a long-awaited plan to combat loss of bee colonies, the National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.
The high loss of colony rate is particularly worrisome to farmers that depend on bees to pollinate some $15 billion of crops every year. The crisis started back in 2006, when a number of colonies were hit with what is called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a disease that leads most of the workers to leave the hive and can destroy as much as 90 percent of the hive.
In recent years, the rate of CCD has dropped, but losses are still occurring. While it is normal to lose some colonies over the winter, researchers are worried the current rate of loss could lead to inadequate pollination and shortages of food supplies, should the trend continue.