Exposure to neonicotinoid seed treated oilseed rape crops has been linked to long-term population decline of wild bee species across the English countryside, according to research published today in Nature Communications.
The research, led by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology using data provided by Fera Science Ltd and the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Scheme, examined changes in the occurrence of 62 wild bee species with oilseed rape cropping patterns across England between 1994 and 2011 - the time period spanning the introduction of wide-scale commercial use of neonicotinoids.
The scientists found evidence suggesting that neonicotinoid use is linked to large-scale and long-term decline in wild bee species distributions and communities.
The decline was, on average, three times stronger among species that regularly feed on the crop such as Buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) compared to species that forage on a range of floral resources, indicating that oilseed rape is a principle mechanism of neonicotinoid exposure among wild bee communities.
Read article in full: Neonicotinoid insecticides linked to wild bee decline across England