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Jan 29, 2014 03:03 PM EST

Zom-Bees: First Documented Case Of 'Flying Dead' Honeybees Reported In The Northeast

Neonicotinoids Destroy Honey Bee Colonies during winters, Study.
(Photo : Nigel E. Raine/ Royal Holloway) Neonicotinoids Destroy Honey Bee Colonies during winters, Study.

It's not a good time to be a bee. Jerry Seinfeld should have foresaw that reality before he wrote and then lent his voice to the 2007 critical flop, "Bee Movie," which represented one of DreamWorks' lower  grossing films at the time (though it still made some decent money).

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The latest malady to strike bees, in particular the ones harvested for their honey, is a certain type of fly that attaches itself to its black and yellow host for the purpose of laying eggs. The subsequent birthing process is believed to cause neurological damage, leading the bee to fly around aimlessly like a "bee zombie" and, unlike zombies, to its eventual death.

First documented in 2008 by Professor John Hafernik of San Francisco State University, the affliction was seen in the northeast for the first time when a case was reported recently in Burlington, Vermont, NBC News reported.

"Right now, we don't know if it's an isolated thing," Stephen Parise, Vermont agricultural production specialist, said at the state's farm exhibition.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture hopes trapping infected bees will give all those concerned a better idea of the condition's reach, according to NBC.

Though dramatic temperature swings, viruses, pesticides, and ineffective dietary measures will likely be the species' greatest detractors once the spring count is taken, the possibility of another threat has frustrated bee scientists.

"It is seemingly kind of Biblical here," University of Illinois entomologist May Berenbaum, a top bee expert, said of nature's apparent conspiracy against the planet's honey givers. "We're getting every conceivable kind of plague."

Death by Zom-Bee could actually join previously mentioned "plagues" in prominence should the flies hatch within hives and infiltrate colonies, according to NBC.

"I think it would be another nail in the coffin for honeybees in the northern hemisphere," said Vermont beekeeper Anthony Cantrell, the first to discover a zombie bee in the region.

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