The idea of Zombie Bees has really struck a chord with people on our website and social media. Our story about infected bees found in the Piedmont had a lot of you asking questions.
Zombie bees are Honey bees that are infected by a parasitic fly. The fly injects its eggs into a bee causing "zombie-like behavior."
The infected bee will fly at night and toward bright lights and will walk and fly around aimlessly, much like you would imagine a zombie. It dies within days, then larvae emerge from the bee's body creating more parasitic flies.
This is important because honey bees provide a third of our food. The first case in our area was discovered weeks ago outside Martinsville, Virginia.
One of the biggest questions we got: could a zombie bee or the parasitic fly that infects bees, infect us?
Robert Jacobs of the Guilford County Beekeepers Association doubts it. He said it's hard enough for bees to even fly at this point. "If the bees are not really able to fly well, somebody's going to have to work at getting stung."
Are all bees that fly at night zombie bees? The answer is no.
"If it gets cool, if it gets late, if it starts to rain and they chill down, they will often land on a branch or a leaf and just wait until the next day when it's warm enough to fly again," said Jacobs.
What should I do if I find a dead bee that might be infected?
You can learn how to report a possible zombie bee on Zombeewatch.org. The website is dedicated to tracking infected bees around the country.
As far as disposing of the dead bees, Jacobs said, "put them in a Ziploc bag, close them up so whatever comes out can't escape and just throw them away."
Keep in mind, zombie bees are very rare. Just one case has been confirmed in the entire Southeast.
Some bee experts believe the infection will spread and that's why they want to make sure you're aware.