A parasitic fly, not previously known to attack honeybees, was accidentally discovered in a bee carcass. (The scientist had gathered dead bees to feed a pet praying mantis.) When further investigated, this insect larva predator turns out to be a very widespread problem for honeybees, and may in fact be a significant (or the primary) cause of the Colony Collapse Disorder that has plagued honeybee populations for the past several years.
The team found evidence of the fly in 77 percent of the hives they sampled in the Bay Area of California, as well as in some hives in the state’s agricultural Central Valley and in South Dakota.
Consider: The honeybee is the most studied insect on the planet, is vitally important to agriculture and thus human food supplies, and has been a particular focus of thousands of researchers as well as thousands of professional and amateur beekeepers. And yet this discovery was an accident and a complete surprise. Once they knew what to look for, the problem was massively evident in widely separated areas — but how many hundreds of thousands of bees have been examined and sampled and dissected in the past five years without noticing the larva infestation?
===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle