This overview report was prepared as part of a project undertaken by the APVMA to establish whether:
the use of the neonicotinoid insecticides in Australia is presenting any more of a risk to the health of
honeybees than other pesticides which have been in use for many years; and
the current APVMA data requirements for testing of insecticides are adequate to address scientific
concerns about subtle effects of neonicotinoids (and other pesticides) on honey bees which have
been suggested as impacting their ability to pollinate plants
and collect honey.
The APVMA is aware of concerns that insecticides, especially those of the neonicotinoid (‘neo-nicotin-oid’)
class, may be contributing to a decline in honeybee populations in Europe and the USA. Our current reading
of the scientific literature is that there is lack of consensus on the causes of these regional declines, with a
wide range of possible causes being actively investigated including pesticides, parasites, viruses, climate
change, bee nutrition, lack of genetic diversity, and bee keeping practices.
Furthermore, these declines are not universal, with evidence that global populations of honey bees are increasing (eg. Aizen & Harder,
Information and advice available to the APVMA suggests that, in Australia, honey bee populations are not in
decline and insecticides are not a highly significant issue, even though they are clearly toxic to bees if used