BANNER ELK, N.C. -- North Carolina's first confirmed cases of Zombie Bees have been discovered in Banner Elk, according to Zombeewatch.org.
It sounds like science-fiction but it's very real. We first told you about the insects infecting a bee population in Virginia in July.
Claire Kimmel, a beekeeper in Banner Elk, discovered them after hearing about a parasite targeting bees.
"Right now we have seven hives,” said Kimmel, referring to the hives she cares for with her husband. “That's probably about half a million bees or about 60,000 bees per hive."
She gave 2 Wants to Know’s Chad Silber a tour over Skype of their passion project that recently fell victim to a deadly parasite.
"My 6-year-old granddaughter was visiting and she said to her granddaddy 'why do you have dead bees on your porch?” recalled Kimmel.
The finding was surprising to the Kimmels. "Our bees are real healthy otherwise so it surprised me that there was this new mite infestation in our hives."
That infestation was a parasitic fly that attaches itself to a bee and then injects its eggs into the bee. The bee then turns into a Zombie Bee, taking on zombie-like characteristics like flying around aimlessly at night until they die. That's when larvae emerge from their bodies, eventually turning into a fly.
The concern is the parasite could have a bigger impact on an already strained bee population in the United States.