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Long-Term Wild Bee Decline in England Linked to Controversial Neonic Pesticide

Aug 17, 2016 04:00 AM EDT

There's another reason for humans not to use pesticides. Researchers found out that the controversial neonicotinoid insecticide is responsible to the decline of bee population in England.

The study published in the journal Nature from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology reveals that the widespread use of neonicotinoid pesticides is the culprit in the declining distribution of bee species, affecting bees that regularly feed on crops three times more than those who forage.

But what are neocotinoids? According to, neocotinoids are pesticides that farmers apply on seeds before planting them. Because the pesticide is applied pre-planting, the chemicals are incorporated into the plant as it grows, resulting to a higher possibility that pollinators (such as bees) could be exposed to them.

The researchers came up with the findings by studying data of 62 bee species from the Fera Science Ltd and the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Scheme from 1994 to 2011.

From the data, the team saw a 10-percent decline in population of the 34 bee species that forage on plants. Meanwhile, five of the 62 studied spicies had a 20-percent decline while the rest experienced a 30-percent population decrease, BBC reports.

"As a flowering crop, oilseed rape is beneficial for pollinating insects. This benefit however, appears to be more than nullified by the effect of neonicotinoid seed treatment on a range of wild bee species," said Dr. Ben Woodcock, lead author of the study.

He further explained that even though pesticides attribute to the decline of wild bee population, there are still other factors to be considered such as habitat loss, fragmentation, pathogens, climate change and other insecticides.

The findings add to previous studies on the negative effects of using neonicotinoid insecticides to honey bees and bumble bees.

"Neonicotinoids are harmful, we can be very confident about that and our mean correlation is three times more negative for foragers than for non-foragers," said co-author Dr. Nick Isaac.

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