More than half a billion bees dropped dead in Brazil within just three months, according to Bloomberg. Researchers say the main cause of death is pesticides, which could end up affecting more than the bees.
European Union countries voted on Friday for a near-total ban on insecticides blamed for killing off bee populations, in what campaigners called a “beacon of hope” for the winged insects. Bees help pollinate 90 percent of the world’s major crops, but in recent years have been dying off from “colony collapse disorder,” a mysterious scourge blamed on mites, pesticides, virus, fungus, or a combination of these factors.
Europe needs an extra seven billion bees to pollinate its crops, with Britain in the poor position of having less than a quarter of the honeybees it requires. The demand for insect pollination across Europe is outpacing the growth of honeybee colonies as farmers grow more oil-bearing crops like oilseed rape and sunflowers, and also fruit.