Over the last 20 years, a phenomenon now recognised as colony collapse disorder (CCD) has led to a marked decline in the number of bees. There have been previous instances of bee populations being devastated in limited areas. One hundred years ago, scientists were pondering why almost the entire bee population of the Isle of Wight (off the south coast of England) had died within about a dozen years. English apiarists still talk of ‘Isle of Wight disease’ although no-one is really sure quite why so many bees died there. The current bout of CCD, reported in North America, Europe and more widely, is believed to be caused by widepread use of neonicotinoid pesticides.