Sioux Falls Zoologists

"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent!"

The mirror test is an experiment developed in 1970 by psychologist Gordon Gallup Jr. to determine whether an animal possesses the ability to recognize itself in a mirror. It is the primary indicator of self-awareness in non-human animals and marks entrance to the mirror stage by human children in developmental psychology. Animals that pass mirror test are: Humans older than 18 mo, Chimpanzees, Bonobos, Orangutans, Gorillas, Bottlenose Dolphins, Orcas (Killer Whales), Elephants, and European Magpies. Others showing signs of self-awareness are Pigs, some Gibbons, Rhesus Macaques, Capuchin Monkeys, some Corvids (Crows & Ravens) and Pigeons w/training. (Sorry Kitty!)

Sioux Falls Zoologists endorse More Than Honey for showing how the
Honey Bee is critical to pollinating many of our crops but its
very existence is under various serious threats.

More Than Honey

More Than Honey (2013) - 95 minutes
More Than Honey at Amazon.com

In More Than Honey, Academy Award ®-nominated director Markus Imhoof (The Boat Is Full) tackles the vexing issue of why bees, worldwide, are facing extinction.

With the tenacity of a man out to solve a great mystery, he investigates this global phenomenon, from California to Switzerland, China and Australia. Exquisite macro-photography of the bees (in reminiscent of Microcosmos) flight and in their hives reveals a fascinating, complex world in crisis. The film shows a detailed look at the breeding of queen bees, the laboratory process of a bee brainscan, and a hive facing the infection of mites. Writes Eric Kohn in Indiewire: "The camera's magnifying power renders the infection in sci-fi terms, as if we've stumbled on to a discarded scene from David Cronenberg's The Fly."

Switzerland's official selection for the 2013 Best Foreign Film Academy Award ®, More Than Honey is a strange and strangely moving film that raises questions of species survival in cosmic as well as apiary terms.

6-20-19 U.S honeybees had the worst winter die-off in more than a decade
Varroa mites and diseases did the most damage, but weather disasters didn’t help. U.S. honeybees just weathered an unusually bad winter. About 38 percent of beekeepers’ colonies died between October 1, 2018, and April 1, 2019, the Bee Informed Partnership estimates. While it wasn’t the worst recent year overall for honeybee losses — that was 2012–2013 — preliminary results released June 19 show it is the worst winter die-off recorded over the University of Maryland–based nonprofit’s 13 years of surveying bee populations. Beekeepers should be able to rebuild those numbers this year, but such ongoing winter losses raise deep worries about the future of crop pollination. On average over the 13 years, about 29 percent of colonies have died each winter. The 2018–2019 numbers came from nearly 4,700 beekeepers, representing about 12 percent of the estimated 2.69 million U.S. hives. Some floods and fires this year destroyed colonies, but “the take-home worry for me is Varroa [mites],” says the Partnership’s Dennis vanEngelsdorp, a bee-health entomologist at the University of Maryland in College Park. The invasive mite species Varroa destructor clamps its tiny pimple-shaped body onto bees just as they’re turning into adults (SN: 2/16/19, p. 32). Mites sap bee strength and spread disease, yet remedies against the pests seem to be losing their power. “Ideally in the long-term, we would have a bee that was resistant,” vanEngelsdorp says. While winter bee colony die-offs are worrisome, beekeepers can split surviving bee colonies and add new queens. Replacing winter-killed colonies this way, however, takes labor, time and money.

3-26-19 A third of wild bee and hoverfly species are in decline in Britain
A third of wild bee and hoverfly species are in decline across Great Britain, raising concerns about biodiversity declines and the potential loss of pollinators. Analysis of 700,000 naturalist records going back to 1980 has found that about 33 per cent of 353 species studied declined in the extent of their range across the island. Losses worsened in wild bees after 2007, four years after the introduction of a group of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, which have since been almost entirely banned by the EU. The assessment found that the key group of 22 wild bees and hoverflies behind crop pollination had been doing relatively well. Overall, 11 per cent of the species studied increased their range between 1980 and 2013. That is no reason for complacency though, says Gary Powney of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, who was involved in the work. “It’s a risky pollination strategy to rely on just 22 species.” While not immediate cause for alarm in terms of food. “The widespread common species, in very broad terms, are doing okay. The rarer species are doing less well. If you only care about wildlife and biodiversity, it’s bad news. If you only care about whether your crops are being pollinated, it’s okay,” says Nick Isaac, who also worked on the research at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. The once widespread red-shanked carder bee (Bombus ruderarius) is among the losers, down 42 per cent. By contrast, the ashy mining bee (Andrena cineraria) increased its range fivefold. Farming, habitat loss and pesticide use have all been blamed for insect losses in recent years. Key crop pollinators could be doing well because of a sevenfold increase in land given over to oilseed rape since 1980, and more strips of wildflowers in farm fields, experts say.

3-26-19 Bees: Many British pollinating insects in decline, study shows
A third of British wild bees and hoverflies are in decline, according to a new study. If current trends continue, some species will be lost from Britain altogether, the scientists say. The study found "winners" and "losers" among hundreds of wild bees and hoverflies, which pollinate food crops and other plants. Common species are winning out at the expense of rarer ones, with an overall picture of biodiversity being lost. Scientists warn that the loss of nature could create problems in years to come, including the ability to grow food crops. The study looked at trends in 353 wild bees and hoverflies in Scotland, England and Wales over 33 years from 1980. A third of species experienced declines in terms of areas where they were found, while about 10% became more abundant, including bees that pollinate flowering crops, such as oil seed rape. While some pollination is carried out by honeybees in hives, much of the pollination of food crops and wild plants is carried out by their wild relatives and other insects, especially hoverflies. Dr Gary Powney of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) in Wallingford, Oxfordshire, said while the increase in key crop pollinators is "good news", species have declined overall. "It would be risky to rely on this group to support the long-term food security for our country," he said. "If anything happens to them in the future, there will be fewer other species to step up and fulfill the essential role of crop pollination." The losses were concentrated among the rarer, specialised species. Dr Nick Isaac, also of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) in Wallingford, Oxfordshire, said this was "particularly bad news if you're interested in wildlife and in conservation". The "losers" include solitary bees, which live in burrows in the ground, and upland bees, living on mountains and moorlands. Among the "winners" are 22 of the most important crop pollinators.

11-26-18 South African bees: 'One million die in Cape Town'
At least one million bees are suspected to have died of poisoning in a wine-producing area of South Africa. Brendan Ashley-Cooper told the BBC that an insecticide used by wine farmers, Fipronil, was thought to have killed the insects on his farm. Other honey bee farmers in the area around Cape Town have also been affected, but it is still unclear how many of the insects have died, he said. Fipronil has been blamed for the deaths of millions of honey bees in Europe. Campaigners say Fipronil is highly toxic to insects, and its use was restricted in Europe in 2013. About 100 of his bee hives, or 35% to 40% of those he owned in the affected areas, had been hit by the disaster, said Mr Ashley-Cooper, the vice-chairman of the Western Cape Bee Industry Association. He estimated this meant between 1-1.5 million bees had been killed. It is unclear how many bees there are in South Africa, but the deaths would not make much difference to their overall population, he said. Fipronil was also at the centre of an egg scandal in Europe this year. Millions of eggs were pulled from supermarket shelves in more than a dozen European countries, including the UK, after it was discovered that some had been contaminated with the insecticide. Fipronil is commonly used to get rid of fleas, lice and ticks but is banned by the European Union for use on animals destined for human consumption, such as chickens. Fipronil had been used by wine farmers in the Cape Town area for a long time to control the ant population, but this was the first time the insecticide was suspected to have caused the deaths of bees, Mr Ashley-Cooper said. Further tests were being done to confirm whether it was to blame, and both wine farmers and the government were working with bee farmers to tackle the problem, he added.

11-12-18 Can listening to bees help save them - and us?
Can artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning help save the world's bees? That's the hope of scientists who are scrambling to reverse the dramatic declines in bee populations. Bees are in trouble, but we're not quite sure why. It could be the overuse of insecticides; air pollution; warming temperatures; the varroa destructor mite; or even interference from electromagnetic radiation. Or it could be a combination of all these factors. But until we have more data, we won't know for sure. So the World Bee Project and IT firm Oracle are creating a global network of AI "smart hives" to give scientists real-time data into the relationships between bees and their environments. Up to six sensors will be mounted on hives, capturing the sound of the bees' buzzing, the movement of their feet and wings, the weight of their honey, the hive's humidity, as well as local weather and pollution levels. Sensors on beehives aren't new, but using AI and machine learning to analyse the data they collect should yield new insights, says John Abel, vice-president of cloud and technology at Oracle. "Sound is probably the most important data set," he says. "We convert it into a data feed and use this via machine learning to inform the beekeeper. And with Oracle Cloud we can get lots of data into it very quickly - we've got technology which is self-learning, self-tuning and self-patching, so it can automate what it needs to do." Oracle - which says the data will be owned by the World Bee Project - will use blockchain to verify that the data is coming from a particular hive and hasn't been tampered with. Simon Potts, professor of biodiversity at Reading University, says it can be quite hard with simple laboratory or field experiments to tease out what is affecting bees. "With AI and machine learning we can start to put together the signature of health and unhealthy hives," he says. "The holy grail would be to identify early warning indicators of problems."

8-15-18 New pesticides 'may have risks for bees'
Attempts to find a new generation of pesticides to replace neonicotinoids have been dealt a potential blow. Neonicotinoids are the most commonly used insecticide in the world, but had been linked to bee declines. Studies suggest a new type of pesticide seen as an alternative to the chemicals, which have been banned in many countries, may have similar risks. The new insecticides may reduce bumblebee reproduction in the wild, according to a study by UK scientists. The alternatives had been sought because of the evidence linking neonicotinoids to declines in bee populations - leading to the bans and restrictions on their use. A study, published in Nature journal, looked at how one of the new class, known as sulfoxaflor, impacts on healthy, wild bumblebees. Exposed bees had fewer offspring when released into the wild compared with unexposed bees. "Our results show that sulfoxaflor can have a negative impact on the reproductive output of bumblebee colonies under certain conditions," said study researcher Harry Siviter of Royal Holloway, University of London.

5-17-18 Bee crisis: EU court backs near-total neonicotinoids ban
The EU's top court has backed an almost complete EU-wide ban on the use of three insecticides, which studies have linked to declining bee populations. Chemicals giants Bayer and Syngenta had gone to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) hoping to get the restrictions on neonicotinoids overturned. Last month EU governments agreed to ban all use of three neonicotinoids outdoors. Seeds treated with them can still be used in greenhouses. Many honeybee colonies have collapsed. Scientific studies have found that the chemicals can disorientate bees, harming their ability to pollinate and return to hives. Some other factors - notably mites and fungus - have also been blamed for the widespread bee decline. The three neonicotinoids to be severely restricted in the EU are: clothianidin, thiamethoxam and imidacloprid. Currently they are widely used, but from next year farms will have to find alternatives.

3-22-18 How bees defend against some controversial insecticides
Researchers have discovered enzymes that can help resist some neonicotinoids. Honeybees and bumblebees have a way to resist toxic compounds in some widely used insecticides. These bees make enzymes that help the insects break down a type of neonicotinoid called thiacloprid, scientists report March 22 in Current Biology. Neonicotinoids have been linked to negative effects on bee health, such as difficulty reproducing in honeybees (SN: 7/26/16, p 16). But bees respond to different types of the insecticides in various ways. This finding could help scientists design versions of neonicotinoids that are less harmful to bees, the researchers say. Such work could have broad ramifications, says study coauthor Chris Bass, an applied entomologist at the University of Exeter in England. “Bees are hugely important to the pollination of crops and wild flowers and biodiversity in general.” Neonicotinoids are typically coated on seeds such as corn and sometimes sprayed on crops to protect the plants from insect pests. The chemicals are effective, but their use has been suspected to be involved in worrisome declines in numbers of wild pollinators (SN Online: 4/5/12).

2-28-18 Pesticides put bees at risk, European watchdog confirms
Most uses of insecticides known as neonicotinoids represent a risk to wild bees and honeybees, the European Food Safety Authority has confirmed. The use of neonicotinoids has been restricted in the European Union since 2013, following earlier risk assessments. Nations will discuss a European Commission proposal to extend the ban next month. Neonicotinoids are the world's most widely used insecticide. The new assessment considered more than 1,500 studies on the impacts of three neonicotinoids - clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam. "There is variability in the conclusions, due to factors such as the bee species, the intended use of the pesticide and the route of exposure," said Jose Tarazona, head of the European Food Safety Authority's pesticides unit. "Some low risks have been identified, but overall the risk to the three types of bees we have assessed is confirmed." The EU banned the use of the three chemicals on flowering crops - seen as most attractive to bees - almost five years ago in a move then opposed by the UK. The Environment Secretary Michael Gove recently reversed the government's position and said it would back a ban on non-flowering crops too, including wheat and sugar beet. A Defra spokesperson said the government had fully applied restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids introduced by the EU to date and, following an assessment by UK scientists, announced last November that it was in favour of further restrictions. "We always keep the evidence on neonicotinoids under review and will look in detail at today's report from the European Food Safety Authority," said the spokesperson.

1-17-18 Mystery deepens over mass die-off of antelopes
A mass die-off of wild antelopes in Kazakhstan was triggered by environmental factors, scientists believe. More than 200,000 saiga antelopes collapsed and died suddenly in 2015, wiping out most of the global population. The deaths were found to be caused by a bacterial infection. However, new data shows other factors were involved too, including unusually high humidity and temperatures. Researchers think changing environmental conditions could be a trigger for the bacterial onslaught, although this needs further research. They say there is a high chance of the same thing happening again, given climate change predictions for the region. Study leader Prof Richard Kock of the Royal Veterinary College London was part of the original emergency response team. He said the event went way beyond what would normally be expected from a bacterial disease of this kind. "The whole thing was really extraordinary," he said. "It's very very likely to happen again." The multi-disciplinary team used statistical analysis to look at environmental conditions at the time.

10-5-17 Neonicotinoid pesticides found in honey from every continent
Neonicotinoid pesticides found in honey from every continent
The discovery of neonicotinoid pesticides in honey means pollinating insects like bees regularly eat dangerous amounts of the pesticides. The evidence has been mounting for years that the world’s most widely used pesticides, neonicotinoids, harm bees and other pollinating insects. Now it seems the problem isn’t limited to Europe and North America, where the alarm was first sounded. It’s everywhere. In 2013 the EU temporarily banned neonicotinoids on crops that attract bees, such as oilseed rape. In November, the European Food Safety Authority will decide if the evidence warrants a total ban. France has already announced one. Starting in 2012, a team led by Alex Aebi of the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, asked travelling colleagues, friends and relatives to bring back honey when they went abroad. In three years they amassed 198 samples from every continent except Antarctica, and tested them for neonicotinoids. They found that three-quarters of the samples contained at least one of the five neonicotinoid pesticides. Of those, nearly half contained between two and five different neonicotinoids. Most worryingly, in 48 per cent of the contaminated samples, the neonicotinoids were at levels that exceeded the minimum dose known to cause “marked detrimental effects” in pollinators. “The situation is indeed bad for pollinators,” says Aebi.

10-5-17 Much of the world’s honey now contains bee-harming pesticides
Much of the world’s honey now contains bee-harming pesticides
Global survey finds neonicotinoids in three-fourths of samples. Neonicotinoid pesticides are turning up in honey on every continent with honeybees. The first global honey survey testing for these controversial nicotine-derived pesticides shows just how widely honeybees are exposed to the chemicals, which have been shown to affect the health of bees and other insects. Three out of four honey samples tested contained measurable levels of at least one of five common neonicotinoids, researchers report in the Oct. 6 Science. “On the global scale, the contamination is really striking,” says study coauthor Edward Mitchell, a soil biologist at the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland. The pesticides are used on many kinds of crops grown in different climates, but traces of the chemicals showed up even in honey from remote islands with very little agriculture. “I used to think of neonicotinoids as being a [localized] problem next to a small set of crops,” says Amro Zayed, who studies bees at York University in Toronto and wasn’t involved in the research. These pesticides “are much more prevalent than I previously thought.”

10-5-17 Pesticides linked to bee deaths found in most honey samples
Pesticides linked to bee deaths found in most honey samples
A new study has found traces of neonicotinoid chemicals in 75% of honey samples from across the world. The scientists say that the levels of the widely used pesticide are far below the maximum permitted levels in food for humans. In one-third of the honey, the amount of the chemical found was enough to be detrimental to bees. Industry sources, though, dismissed the research, saying the study was too small to draw concrete conclusions. Neonicotinoids are considered to be the world's most widely used class of insecticides. These systemic chemicals can be added as a seed coating to many crops, reducing the need for spraying. They have generally been seen as being more beneficial for the environment than the older products that they have replaced. However, the impact of neonics on pollinators such as bees has long been a troubling subject for scientists around the world. Successive studies have shown a connection between the use of the products and a decline in both the numbers and health of bees. Earlier this year, the most comprehensive field study to date concluded that the pesticides harm honey bees and wild bees. This new study looks at the prevalence of neonicotinoids in 198 honey samples gathered on every continent (except Antarctica). The survey found at least one example of these chemicals in 75% of the honey, from all parts of the globe. Concentrations were highest in North America, Asia and Europe.

11-24-16 Health Canada proposes ban on pesticide linked to bee deaths
Health Canada proposes ban on pesticide linked to bee deaths
Canada's health regulator is planning to ban a controversial neonicotinoid pesticide, which it says has contaminated waterways and killed important aquatic insects. Health Canada wants to ban virtually all uses of the pesticide Imidacloprid. It said Imidacloprid poses risks to Canada's aquatic wildlife. Studies have linked neonicotinoid use to bee deaths around the world, although whether it is to blame for colony collapse is still being debated.

2-5-16 Spread of bee disease 'largely manmade'
Spread of bee disease 'largely manmade'
The global trade in bees is driving a pandemic that threatens hives and wild bees, UK scientists say. A deadly bee disease has spread worldwide through imports of infected honeybees, according to genetic evidence. Stricter controls are needed to protect bees from other emerging diseases. The virus together with the Varroa mite can kill-off whole hives, putting bee populations at risk.

More Than Honey

Sioux Falls Zoologists endorse More Than Honey for showing how the
Honey Bee is critical to pollinating many of our crops but its
very existence is under various serious threats.