Sunday night. 11 p.m. 72 degrees. On the porch. Night warm and still. No breeze. Some haze. Usually, even with the porch light on, I can see some stars. Only light in the sky right now could be a planet but is probably a plane heading this way but too far away to see it’s moving. Quiet. None of the usual night music. No traffic. No voices carrying from anywhere. No geese arguing and complaining down by the river. No peepers! Past their bedtime? The only sound at the moment is over my shoulder. The buzzing of a bee.
Since when are bees nocturnal?
Do hives have a night shift?
It’s attacking the porch light, furiously trying to get through the lamp glass to the bulb. Been at it for the past 15 minutes. Driving the both of us nuts. Time for me to head in anyway. To end its frustration I turn off the light as soon as I’m through the door.
The buzzing continues. But now it’s above and ahead of me, coming from the ceiling light.
Little blighter followed me inside.
Did some research. Turns out there are a few species of bees that are nocturnal, but what there also are are zombie honeybees:
There's more trouble for your hard-working backyard honey bee. Researchers have confirmed the first cases of "zombee" bees in Washington state and in the Portland area. Infection by a parasite prompts the bees to embark on what's being called a "flight of the living dead."
The initial Washington detection came from an observant beekeeper in the Seattle suburb of Kent.
"The odd thing is they're attracted to light. Bees normally aren't attracted to light. And they're flying at night. Bees don't normally fly at night," says Mark Hohn. He keeps bees as a hobby.
Hohn sent some of his casualties to entomologists at Washington State University and San Francisco State. They confirmed infection by a tiny parasitic fly.
"After it lays its eggs in the bee, the eggs hatch," Hohn explains. "Then the maggot is inside the bee. It's actually eating the inside of the bee and it affects their motor skills."
Eventually, the disoriented bees flutter to the ground and die.
You can read and listen to Tom Banse’s story from September 2012, Newly Detected Parasite Turns Northwest Honey Bees Into 'Zombees', at NPR.
This is a serious threat to the honeybee population and it’s spread to the northeast since Banse reported the story.
So what I was dealing with tonight might have been a zombee on a flight of the living dead.
Not my jokes, folks.