Wild bees that forage from oilseed rape crops treated with insecticides known as neonicotinoids are more likely to undergo long-term population declines than bees that forage from other sources, according to the findings of an 18-year study.
The new research covered 62 species of bee found in the wild in Britain and found a link between their shrinking populations and the use of neonicotinoid pesticides.
Neonicotinoids are used worldwide in a range of crops and have been shown in lab-based studies to be harmful to certain species of bee - notably commercial honeybees and bumblebees.
The European Union limited use of the chemicals - made and sold by various companies including Bayer CropScience and Syngenta - two years ago, after research pointed to risks for bees, which are crucial for pollinating crops.
Neonicotinoids were initially licensed for use as a pesticide in Britain in 2002. By 2011, the proportion of UK oilseed rape seeds treated with them was 83 percent, according to the researchers leading this latest study.
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