"Zombees" to blame for honeybee disappearance?

"Zombees" to blame for honeybee disappearance? »Play Video
CENTRAL Wash. -- Bees on the west side of the state keep on disappearing, and "zombees" may be to blame. In this case, "zombees" are a type of fruit fly that are doing tons of damage to the bee population. The phorid fly injects a honey bee with eggs, killing the bee outright. Fortunately, beekeepers on this side of the state have yet to see it.

"The cause of that is the absence of the primary host the bumble bee so it's a significant concern but not for the reason that have been publicized," said beekeeper and former apiary inspector, Tom Theobald.

While the fly only affects a single bee, the real concern is collapsing colonies. Dying bees means dying agriculture across our area.

Tom-"the apple industry that amounts to 6 billion dollars a year. It takes two colonies of bees per acre to pollinate those crops. If you don't have the bees you don't have crops." It's why the Central Washington Beekeepers Association is holding a the largest showing of the "Vanishing Bees" documentary to date.

"Here's a bee hive scientist found a couple days ago it was full of bees. Three hours later, nobody home-they just took off," said reknown beekeeper David Hackenburg.

David Hackenburg says the phenomenon of disappearing bees is different than anything he's seen in his 50 years of beekeeping.

"You found dead bees. Dead bodies laying out in front of the hive. Now, there's no dead body they're just gone. Where they went, we don't know," said Hackenburg

Scientists believe a combination of pesticides may be to blame.
-"They're not killing the bees out right but they're doing things to the bees like shortening their lifespan, interfering with larval development and interfering with immune function," said Dr. Maryann Frazier, the Senior Extension Associate for Honeybees at Penn State.

But beekeepers say being unable to find a definitive cause the honey bee disappearance is stressful.

"You can't fix the problem because you really don't know what the problem is or what's causing the problem," said Hackenburg.

One third of the food we eat comes from honey bee pollination.
You can help honey bees by planting flowers, buying local honey, or keeping your own bees.

If you would like to know more, the CWBA meets in Yakima the first Tuesday and in TriCities the second Tuesday of each month.