Southern California breaking news and trends

Zom-bees! Parasitic fly causes zombie-like behavior, may explain honey bee die-off

honey bees zombie

John Hafernik/AP

In this photo provided by San Francisco State University, the larvae of an Apocephalus borealis fly emerges from the dead body of a host honey bee. The A. borealis fly is suspected of contributing to the decrease in the honey bee population.

Northern California scientists studying the worldwide disappearance of honey bees are abuzz with a possible explanation for the die-off and abandonment of hives: a parasitic fly that turns honey bees into zom-bees. 

Scientists say the fly deposits its eggs into the bee's abdomen, causing the infected bee to exhibit zombie-like behavior by walking around in circles with no apparent sense of direction. The bee leaves the hive at night and dies shortly thereafter.

The symptoms mirror colony collapse disorder, in which all the adult honey bees in a colony suddenly disappear.
The disease is of great concern, because bees pollinate about a third of the United States' food supply. Its presence is especially alarming in California, the nation's top producer of fruits and vegetables, where bees play an essential role in the $2 billion almond industry and other crops.

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At sea, Rupert Murdoch dives into the abyss of Twitter

Rupert Murdoch, on his yacht, while vacationing over New Year's in the Caribbean, joined Twitter without the involvement of a communications staff. (Or a copy editor.) 

The chairman and chief executive of News Corp, reportedly made the unilateral decision to enter the world of micro messages while playing with an iPad aboard his 184-ft vessel, reports the New York Times.

With some awareness of Twitter's reach, ("I'm getting killed for fooling around here and friends frightened what I may really say!"), Murdoch, began to make public his private thoughts, posting under the handle rupertmurdoch.

The 80-year-old media mogul, who's still reeling from last year's widespread phone hacking scandal, has chosen to tweet:

RESOLUTIONS -"My resolutions, try to maintain humility and always curiosity. And of course diet!"

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SoCal Edison apologizes for slow response after November's wind storm

Los Angeles Area Hit With Powerful Santa Ana Winds

David McNew/Getty Images

PASADENA, CA - DECEMBER 1: A tree lies fallen between the cars of a playground train after strong Santa Ana Winds cause the worst local wind damage in decades on December 1, 2011 in Pasadena, California. As many as 230,000 were without power and the city of Pasadena closed schools and declared a state of emergency.Ê (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Los Angeles Area Hit With Powerful Santa Ana Winds

David McNew/Getty Images

A boy whose school was closed climbs fallen trees on Green Street after strong Santa Ana Winds that are cauing the worst local wind damage in decades on Dec. 1, 2011 in Pasadena.

Los Angeles Area Hit With Powerful Santa Ana Winds

David McNew/Getty Images

PASADENA, CA - DECEMBER 1: Broken branches and fallen trees nearly engulf a house as strong Santa Ana Winds cause the worst local wind damage in decades on December 1, 2011 in Pasadena, California. As many as 230,000 were without power and the city of Pasadena closed schools and declared a state of emergency. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Toppled tree uprooted near Griffith Park

Tony Pierce / KPCC

Strong winds uprooted this huge tree off Los Feliz Blvd. near Griffith Park on Dec. 1, 2011.

Palm fronds in Los Feliz

Tony Pierce / KPCC

Palm tree fronds litter a street in Los Feliz in the wake of strong winds.

Steve Julian/KPCC

Winds take over KPCC Reporter Steve Julian's backyard

A worker directs traffic near a fallen eucalyptus in South Pasadena

Kevin Ferguson/KPCC

A worker directs traffic near a fallen eucalyptus in South Pasadena


The president of Southern California Edison is sending letters of apology to the hundreds of thousands of people who were left without electricity after last month's devastating windstorm.

The letters began going out Friday.

Ron Litzinger says Edison crews performed "extraordinarily well" after the Nov. 30 storm. But he adds the utility learned from its customers that it could do better in the future, including in efforts to get word out on how long to expect power to be off.

Some 430,000 Southern California residences and businesses lost power when wind gusts approaching 100 mph in some areas felled hundreds of trees and power poles.

Some outages lasted a week, and many people complained that Edison officials wouldn't give an estimate when electricity might be restored.

SoCal Edison apology letter

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