Volunteers Needed to Become Zombee Catchers

Scientists at San Francisco State are asking for the public's help in tracking 'zombie' bees, or 'zombees,' on the Peninsula.


Scientists at San Francisco State University (SFSU) are asking for the public's help to track sick honeybees. A tiny fly parasite is threatening the health of honey bee colonies that are vital commerical pollinators across the state and country.

The team of researchers is asking Peninsula residents to participate in a "citizen science project" to help find out how far the parasite has spread.

ZomBeeWatch.org, a website where citizens can upload relevant information and photographs, launched on Tuesday. The website includes tutorials on how to build light traps from household material and collect data for the project.

Reports of parasitized bees have come from Redwood City, Santa Barbara, and South Dakota. SFSU biology professor John Hafernik said in a press release, “What we’d really like to see is if this parasitism is distributed widely across North America.”
“Right now is still the low season for parasitized bees,” Hafernik explained, “but they will start ramping up in August. In the San Francisco Bay Area, infections peak in September through January.”

ZombeeWatch offers tutorials on how to become what press materials call "a zombee hunter, complete with step-by-step instructions for monitoring and collecting bees, building a light trap and uploading data."

Visit ZomBeeWatch.org for more information.

Does learning how to become a zombee hunter interest you? Share your thoughts on this unconventional study in the comments.


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