Honey bees around the world are having a tough time of it.
And we are totally dependent on them.
They have suffered from a number of diseases and Colony Collapse Disorder has wiped out millions in the US.
Bees are the essential pollinators of many major US crops, have been dying off in massive numbers since 2006. There is growing evidence that a new class of pesticides -- nerve toxins called neonicotinoids, which are used on most US crops including almost all corn -- may be toxic to bees.
The Environmental Protection Agency allowed neonicotinoids on the market without adequate tests to determine their toxicity to bees. Environmentalists want neonicotinoids banned until needed safety tests are done. While the US government is slow to act and neonicotinoid sales reap billions for the chemical industry, bees continue to die.
Scientists have looked at two common pesticides:neonicotinoids , and a group of organophosphate chemicals called coumaphos, which are used to kill the Varroa mite, a parasite that attacks the honey bee.
Work that has previously been undertaken at the University of Dundee, in Scotland,revealed that if the pesticides were applied directly to the brains of the pollinators, they caused a loss of brain activity.
Dr Christopher Connolly said: "We found neonicotinoids cause an immediate hyper-activation - so an epileptic type activity - this was proceeded by neuronal inactivation, where the brain goes quiet and cannot communicate any more. The same effects occur when we used organophosphates.
"And if we used them together, the effect was additive, so they added to the toxicity: the effect was greater when both were present."
The European Commission recently sought a temporary moratorium on the use of neonicotinoids after a report by the European Food Safety Authority concluded that they posed a high acute risk to pollinators.
But amazingly 14 out of the 27 EU nations - including the UK and Germany - opposed the ban, and the proposal has now been delayed.