In many places throughout the world honey bees numbers have been declining rapidly. Not only does this mean less honey available, but more seriously there is a threat that millions of acres of food crops (especially fruit and vegetables) won't be pollinated. Bees are absolutely critical to survival of the human species, and a reduction in bee numbers should worry us all.
There are thought to have been many causes of a decline in bees and undoubtedly not one single factor is to blame. Declining resistance to disease, lower quality forage and endemic diseases are all playing their part, but which have come first - what's the cause?
Some beekeepers and researchers have long been convinced that group of pesticides called neonicotinoids are to blame. Many countries, including France, Italy and Germany have banned these pesticides precisely because they are strongly implicated in massive declines in bees.
Last week a report came out that has linked a 50% decline in bee populations over 25 years, in both the US and UK, to neonicotinoids: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/mar/29/crop-pesticides-honeybee-decline?intcmp=239. Perhaps the UK Government will now take this seriously and ban these dangerous chemicals?
Vanishing of the bees