Neonicotinoids are not the only group of pesticides that are adversely affecting bee populations in the UK and elsewhere. Herbicide usage and the growth of monoculture agriculture are reducing the amount and variety of foraging material for hungry bees.
A herbicide, commonly known as a weedkiller, is a type of pesticide used to kill unwanted plants. Selective herbicides kill specific targets while leaving the desired crop relatively unharmed. Some of these act by interfering with the growth of the weed and are often synthetic "imitations" of plant hormones. Herbicides used to clear waste ground, industrial sites, railways and railway embankments are non-selective and kill all plant material with which they come into contact. Smaller quantities are used in forestry, pasture systems, and management of areas set aside as wildlife habitat.
Between 1990 and 2010 herbicide usage across the UK rose from 14,438,110 ha treated area to 22,168,312 ha treated area Between 1990 and 2006, the total area treated with pesticides increased by 30% in the UK, and the herbicide-treated area increased by 38% (Fera 2009)
Loss of habitat statistics
Broad-spectrum herbicides threaten rare and endangered bird species by reducing the abundance of weeds (eaten by birds) and insects hosted by weeds In recent decades, the use of herbicides has dramatically increased. Today, some non-crop plants (or 'weeds') are threatened with extinction in Britain (Preston 2002). Although the total volume of herbicides applied in the UK decreased slightly between 1990 and 2006, the herbicide-treated area increased by 38% (Fera 2009). Diversity of wild plants in agricultural fields and field margins is declining, especially in infertile grassland and hedge bottoms.