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Citizen Scientists Working on Behalf of Zombie Bees

By Renee Fudula, Science Teacher – STEM Academy

Thanks to two grants from the  Sandwich Cultural Council ($500) and Cape Cod 5 ($500), the STEM Academy 7th grade students will be taken action as Citizen Scientists.

We will be partnering with Planet Bee Foundation, a non-profit organization and San Francisco State University, to bring Citizen Science to the STEM Academy’s 7th Grade students.  Dr. John Hafernik, Professor of Entomology, at San Francisco State University and ZomBee Watch founder and Professor of Entomology, recently discovered that honey bees are being affected by a zombie fly parasitoid (a parasite that always kills its host). Honey bees affected by the parasitoid are attracted to lights at night and exhibit zombie-like behavior.

Our objective is that our students will discover the joy of participating in current and important honey bee research for real scientists and be able to document whether Massachusetts’s honey bees are being infected by a zombie fly parasitoid.

Honey bees affected by the parasitoid are attracted to lights at night and exhibit zombie-like behavior.   We hope to build light traps, using recyclables, light bulbs, switches and fixtures, and document that zombie bees live in Massachusetts, as this has not ever been done before.

They will also learn the importance of pollination and how essential honey bee populations are to our health and wellbeing.

The ZomBee Watch Project consists of two skyping sessions in April and  May or June, 2017 to all 230 7th Grade students. This will include includes in-depth lessons. Students will design and build their own light traps, using recyclables, light bulbs and switches, and contribute their data to a nation-wide Citizen Science Watch project taking place around the world.

The project will be evaluated by assessments, which include the designing and building of light traps, lesson assessments based on  group project-based learning and collaboration.  Teachers and students will gauge  the success of the ZomBee Watch Project was successful or not, whether students are engaged in the Citizen Science Watch project.  Teachers will be involved in evaluating the curriculum content for the Planet Bee Foundation.

Zombie Bees have never been documented in Massachusetts.  According to Dr. John Hafenik, Professor of Entomology at San Francisco State University and ZomBee Watch founder, who is thrilled to have our school doing research, there is no data from Massachusetts and that we will most likely catch parasitoid infected bees.  If we are able to catch the infected bees, then we will inform the local and national media, as this will be something that everyone in our community of Cape Cod, should know.