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Zombie Bees: Scientific Study Needs You

Learn to be a zombie bee hunter on a new SF State website. Sick bees have been found on the Peninsula, and parasite season will ramp up in August.

Scientists at San Francisco State University need your 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 residents of Belmont and surrounding communities 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. SF State Professor of Biology 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."

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