Horizon: What's Killing Our Bees?

Confirmed for BBC Two on 2 August at 9.00pm to 10.00pm

Friday 2 August



Bees may provide the soundtrack to the British summer, but they also play a hugely significant - and often underestimated - role in the life of the countryside. Bees are worth £430 million to Britain’s agriculture, and one third of what we eat is reliant on bee pollination. Yet their numbers have been falling dramatically.

This year, the EU banned the use of neonicotinoid pesticides in an attempt to reduce bee death, but the UK and US governments argued against the ban. In this film, journalist and bee enthusiast Bill Turnbull will guide us through the bewildering and conflicting science in a bid to understand what is killing our bees. Exploring the science at the heart of the bee controversy, he’ll investigate why bee numbers are falling, and ask whether pesticides really are to blame - and what other factors might be contributing to the decline.

The film focuses on two remarkable experiments that scientists are carrying out to find answers. Each involves a hive of bees where the bees have been fitted with cutting-edge tracking equipment to monitor what happens to them once they fly out of the hive. The bees carry tiny radar transponders which can then be tracked, and the idea of these experiments is to find out how the behaviour of bees is affected by two of the proposed culprits - pesticides and the varroa mite, which carries a lethal virus. In a series of hands-on experiments, Horizon reveals the surprising intelligence and detailed communication of our native bees. Bill Turnbull brings his sense of journalistic enquiry to weigh the evidence and try and answer the question: what's killing our bees?