The Appliance of Science: Are Pesticides the Most Important Cause of Colony Losses?
By the time you read this, the European Commission will have imposed a two year moratorium on the use, within its boundaries, of three neonicotinoid insecticides: imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin, on bee friendly crops such as oilseed rape and sunflowers. This move, following an inconclusive vote on 29th April, has been hailed as a victory for bee conservation by environmental pressure groups: while being lambasted by the pesticides industry, who have come up with some very inventive estimates of the economic impact of the move. Governments around the world are watching. Bee-keepers and bee scientists have found themselves in the middle of this often bad tempered debate which has been characterised by more heat than light. So what is the purpose of this ban, and what will be the effects on bees?