Fact Sheet




NCEL Point of Contact

Kate Burgess
Conservation Program Manager



A relatively new class of insecticide called neonicotinoids has been linked to pollinator decline worldwide. Numerous studies demonstrate that neonicotinoids pose a threat to bee populations in particular. Scientists recognize that other factors such as disease also contribute to the decline, and that banning these products will not likely save the bees alone. Research does show, however, that these insecticides have negative impacts and that restricting their use would benefit pollinators.

Key Points

Key Point 1

A neonicotinoid insecticide called thiamethoxam can cause high mortality in honeybees by compromising their ability to navigate back to the hive. (Science)

Key Point 2

Levels of neonicotinoid insecticides currently used in agriculture causes both impairment of bees’ brain cells and poor performance by the colony. (Phys.org)

Key Point 3

Research has established a correlation between exposure to field-realistic neonicotinoid insecticides and reduced growth rate and production of queen bees. (Science)

Key Point 4

The Harvard School of Public Health replicated a controversial 2012 finding that linked low doses of a neonicotinoid called imidacloprid with colony collapse disorder. (Harvard) in bees. The 2014 replication of the study confirmed the previous conclusion, in addition to determining that a second neonicotinoid, clothianidin, had the same negative impact. (Harvard)


  • Vermont H. 205 (2019): Classifies neonicotinoids as an “economic poison,” which has specific restrictions on the purchase, sale, use and labeling within the state.
  • Connecticut SB 231 (2016): Section 3 of this bill amends Section 22a-50 of the Connecticut General Statutes to classify neonicotinoids as restricted use.
  • Maryland SB 198/HB 211 (2016): Limits the sale of neonicotinoids to sellers who are already permitted to
    sell restricted use pesticides. Also, it restricts the use of neonicotinoids to state certified applicators, farmers and veterinarians. The original text of this bill included a labeling requirement for neonicotinoid products, but it was cut before the final version.
  • Minnesota HF 2798 (2014): Prohibits plants treated with neonics from being labeled or advertised as beneficial to pollinators.


NCEL Resources

Online Resources

Study: Country-specific effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on honey bees and wild bees

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Study: Chronic exposure to neonicotinoids reduces honey bee health near corn crops

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Pollinator Health - NCSL

NCSL Report on Pollinator Health - (2015): National Conference of State Legislators

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How Neonicotinoids Can Kill Bees - Xerces Society

The Science Behind the Role These Insecticides Play in Harming Bees. 2nd Edition; Revised & Expanded

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