So, the votes are in and despite some opposition the European commission has banned the use of neonicotinoids on crops that are attractive to bees and other pollinators.
Some research has suggested that neonicotinoids can be damaging to bees, but the UK government published a review of the data saying there was no evidence yet en campo (in the field) and that all the data was from lab experiments. Also that a ban on neonicotiniods would lead to a revival of older pesticides that can be damaging to wildlife. They had called for more research in the field before making a decision. The British Beekeepers Association also reiterated this point and said that a ban could be more damaging to bee health.
Some scientists have dismissed the UK governments review calling it flawed. A study recently published by scientists from the University of Newcastle demonstrated that 18.5% of bees that had been exposed to imidaclopid, a neonicotinoid, lost the ability to learn. They also looked at exposure to coumaphos, used to control mites in bee hives and found it also had a negative effect on memory. However, other scientists have commented that the doses used far exceeded the amount the bee would be exposed to in the wild.
It is a confusing story to be sure, one thing is for certain though, bee populations are decreasing and we need them to pollinate our crops and for the honey, bee wax and royal jelly they produce.