Bee-harming pesticides: strongest ever evidence of damage to bees

Emi Murphy

16 August 2016

An independent study backed by the government has reported on the harm caused by neonicotinoid pesticides (neonics) to a range of wild bee species. 

The study examined wild bee populations and the impact of planting neonic-treated oilseed rape crops over 17 years.

It found chilling evidence of their harm to Britain’s bees. Friends of the Earth has described the study as the strongest evidence yet.

Hard-hitting stats

Bee decline was found to be ‘three times stronger’ in species which rely on the neonic-treated crop as a food source, compared with bee species that feed from a wider range of flowering plants.

And for some vulnerable species of wild bees, the use of neonics on crops ‘was equivalent to at least 20% of local population extinctions’.

Read the full report.

Bees need protection from intensive farming

The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, which conducted the study, suggests that the use of bee-harming neonics is linked with ‘wild bee biodiversity losses at a national scale'. 

It suggests this has implications for the conservation of bee communities in intensively-farmed landscapes. 

Friends of the Earth believes this study demonstrates the need for sustainable alternative farming techniques that don’t harm bees and other pollinators. 

Read our farming report for more information (PDF).

Bees campaigner Paul de Zylva says:

The study adds a huge new peak to the existing mountain of independent evidence showing the risk to our bees of using neonics.

The study gives a lie to claims that bees need oilseed rape. Bees do feed on it but the study shows that visiting plants laden with pesticides does bees more harm than good.

Bees need you more than ever before

It's clear that our bees are under threat from toxic neonicotinoids - please help.

Ask your MP to back the ban on neonics

unhappy bee illustration on rapeseed oil plant