But the major damage has been done by neonicotinoids or ‘neonics’ that have been sprayed on crops such as oilseed rape, say scientists from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. There has been a moratorium on the use of these insecticides across Europe since 2013, but despite the ban, bee populations have fallen by as much as 30 per cent in some regions of the UK, say the scientists.
They reckon that the insecticides are directly responsible for at least half the bee population decline, say the scientists, who examined the populations of 62 bee species across England between 1994 and 2011. The decline seems to be greatest in areas where neonics have been most widely used.
The neonics were introduced around 20 years ago, and were granted a license for use on rapeseed oil crops in 2002. Imidacloprid is the world’s most widely-used neonic.