A widespread loss of pollinating insects in recent decades has been revealed by the first national survey in Britain, which scientists say “highlights a fundamental deterioration” in nature.
Bees living in suburban habitats are still being exposed to significant levels of pesticides despite the EU ban on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides on flowering crops, new research from University of Sussex scientists shows.
While the introduction of new EU restrictions on the use of neonicotinoid chemicals five years ago has reduced exposure of bees living in farmland, the study found that overall more than half of all pollen and nectar samples collected from bee nests in Sussex, Hertfordshire and Scotland between 2013 and 2015 were contaminated.
Read the press release:- The Pesticide Ban is Failing
The Guardian newspaper reports a study by Royal Holloway University :-
“Bumblebee colonies fare better in villages and cities than in fields, research has revealed.
Bumblebees are important pollinators, but face threats including habitat loss, climate change, pesticide and fungicide use and parasites. Now researchers say that bumblebee colonies in urban areas not only produce more offspring than those on agricultural land, but have more food stores, fewer invasions from parasitic “cuckoo” bumblebees, and survive for longer.
“[The study] is not saying that cities are necessarily the ideal habitat for bees, it is just that they are doing better in the cities than in the countryside,” said Ash Samuelson, a doctoral student and first author of the research from Royal Holloway, University of London.”
Guardian newspaper report ….
“Pollinators don’t just wing it when it comes to finding a sweet treat: the shape, colour, perfume and even electrical charge of flowers are all known to offer clues.
But now researchers say bumblebees also use another floral feature to guide them: how the concentration of a scent varies across the flower’s surface.”
A report from the European Food Safety Authority published on 28th Feb 2018 gathers together evidence from over 1500 studies and could be a game-changer for bees.
This landmark science review concludes that neonicotinoid pesticides pose a high risk to both honeybees and wild bees.
For the new assessments, which this time cover wild bees – bumblebees and solitary bees – as well as honeybees, EFSA’s Pesticides Unit carried out an extensive data collection exercise, including a systematic literature review, to gather all the scientific evidence published since the previous evaluations.
BBC videos and information on the importance of bees.
Presented by Chris Packham
The importance of bees
What bees do for us
Pollination and food production
The threats to honey bees
Can bees be replaced?
Scientists investigated the species honey bees liked most during spring as part of efforts to protect the bees’ environment and better understand their habits.
Peonies, wallflowers, roses, and hyacinth are among the top 10 favourite garden plants.
Favoured wild plants include gorse, willow, hawthorn, oak and dandelion.
Research head Dr Natasha de Vere said bees face a lack of habitat brought about by the loss of hedgerows, woodland and meadows rich in plant species.
Without a healthy and diverse diet, they are unable to withstand pressures from pests, disease and insecticides.
“The main conclusion is that, during the spring, honey bees need native hedgerow and woodland plants, which means we must conserve these habitats,” Dr de Vere added.
“The research also tells us that honey bees are supplementing this main diet with smaller amounts from parks and gardens – proving what we do in our own backyard is crucial.”
The project – part of the Carmarthenshire garden’s Saving Pollinators scheme – identified plant DNA in honey collected from its eight hives and quarter of a million bees.
Of the 437 different types of plants in flower in April and May in the botanic garden, only 11% were used by bees.Honey bees need access to a wide variety of food throughout spring as they replenish honey stores and feed their young.
The research, carried out by Aberystwyth and Bangor university scientists, found their diet is supplemented by spring-flowering bulbs.
Other favourites include apple and cherry trees, hellebores, oak, holly, and wallflowers.
Researchers now plan to analyse honey from across Wales to understand what bees eat in other parts of the country.
THE GOVERNMENT MUST BAN BEE-HARMING PESTICIDES AS NEW RESEARCH SHOWS RISK TO BUMBLEBEE EXTINCTION
The government must act to permanently ban bee-harming pesticides says
Friends of the Earth as new research from Royal Holloway University suggests that neonicotinoid pesticides pose a risk of bumblebee extinction.
The research showed that queen bees exposed to neonicotinoid pesticides were
26% less likely to be able to start a new colony.
Friends of the Earth is urging the UK government to back moves in the EU to
permanently extend current neonicotinoid restrictions to all crops – and
commit to keeping any ban post-Brexit.
Responding to the research, Sandra Bell, Friends of the Earth nature
“This new study comes hot on the heels of the largest field trials of
neonicotinoids showing harm to honey bees and wild bees. It also follows
new evidence of how these pesticides leak into the environment and turn up in
wildflowers posing further risk to bees.
“It is clear that use of these chemicals on any crop poses a risk to bees
and other wildlife. The Government has repeatedly said it will follow the
science – how much more science does it need before it acts to protect our
“Michael Gove must put his support behind a comprehensive ban on
neonicotinoid pesticides across the EU and continue the ban in the UK
1) Bumblebees are less able to start colonies when exposed to a common
neonicotinoid pesticide, which could lead to collapses in wild bee
populations, according to new research  in Nature Ecology & Evolution. Researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London, and the University of Guelph have found
that exposure to thiamethoxam, a common pesticide, reduced the chances of
a bumblebee queen starting a new colony by more than a quarter.
2) In June 2017 a pan-European field study was published  providing
evidence that neonicotinoids harm honeybees and wild bees. Covering a
crop area equivalent to 3,000 football pitches, it was the biggest yet
real-world study of these pesticides. Undertaken in the UK, Germany and
Hungary, the experiment found : Increasing levels of neonicotinoid
residues in the nests of wild bee species was linked with lower
reproductive success across all three countries; Exposure to treated
crops reduced overwintering success of honeybee colonies – a key
measure of year-to-year viability – in the UK and Hungary.
3) Another study  this year, carried out on corn farms in Canada, found
crops were not the main source of neonicotinoids to which bees were
exposed. Instead, the contaminated pollen came from wildflowers, as has
also been shown in the UK. Nadia Tsvetkov, at York University in Canada
and who led the research said that “This indicates that neonicotinoids,
which are water soluble, spill over from fields into the surrounding
environment, where they are taken up by other plants that are very
attractive to bees”.
The Guardian newspaper reports –
“Widely used insecticides damage the survival of honeybee colonies, the world’s largest ever field trial has shown for the first time, as well as harming wild bees.
The farm-based research, along with a second new study, also suggests widespread contamination of entire landscapes and a toxic “cocktail effect” from multiple pesticides.”