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ZomBee Watch

ZomBee Watch

After being parasitized by the Apocephalus borealis fly, infected zombie-like bees abandon their hives and congregate near outside lights, moving in increasingly erratic circles before dying.

In response to this odd phenomenon researchers have launched ZomBeeWatch.org, a citizen science project to report possible sightings of the parasitized bees. The researchers hope to find out how far the parasite has spread and how many honeybee hives might be affected. So far, the Zombie Fly has been found parasitizing honeybees in California and South Dakota. Help researchers determine if the fly has spread to honeybees across North America.

The ZomBeeWatch site asks people to collect bees that appear to have died underneath outside lights, or appear to be behaving strangely under the lights, in a container or in a glassine envelope. They can then watch for signs that indicate the bee was parasitized by the fly, which usually deposits its eggs into a bee's abdomen. About seven days after the bee dies, fly larvae push their way into the world from between the bee’s head and thorax and form brown, pill-shaped pupae that are equivalent to a butterfly’s chrysalis.

Project Details

  • PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: John Hafernik
  • SCIENTIST AFFILIATION: San Francisco State University
  • DATES: Ongoing
  • PROJECT TYPE: Observation
  • COST: Free
  • GRADE LEVEL: All Ages
  • TIME COMMITMENT: Variable
  • HOW TO JOIN:

    First, create an account. The researcher have also created an online tutorial to educate citizen scientists about the project.

See more projects in FreeObservationAll Ages.

What Is Citizen Science?

Research often involves teams of scientists collaborating across continents. Now, using the power of the Internet, non-specialists are participating, too. Citizen Science falls into many categories. A pioneering project was SETI@Home, which has harnessed the idle computing time of millions of participants in the search for extraterrestrial life. Citizen scientists also act as volunteer classifiers of heavenly objects, such as in Galaxy Zoo. They make observations of the natural world, as in The Great Sunflower Project. And they even solve puzzles to design proteins, such as FoldIt. We'll add projects regularly—and please tell us about others you like as well.

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