Country sees half a billion bees die during three month period

More than 500 million bees have died in Brazil in the past three months.

Since May beekeepers across four of the country's states have reported the insects dying in vast numbers.

In the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul alone as many as 400 million bees have perished.

Researchers believe the mass deaths are the result of widespread pesticide use in the South American country.

Bees are particularly vulnerable to chemicals containing neonicotinoids, fipronil and other ingredients banned by the EU in April 2018. 

In the same year populist President Jair Bolsonaro lifted a long-term ban of the pesticides in Brazil.

According to Greenpeace, the use of pesticides in Brazil has increased in recent years, with 193 products containing chemicals banned in the EU registered in the country since 2016.

The death of so many crop pollinating bees could have a devastating impact on the country's food supply.

One-third of the food we eat is reliant on pollination, mainly by bees.

Bees are not only dying in Brazil, but their numbers are plummeting around the globe.

Four in ten honeybee colonies were lost in the United States in the past year, making it the worst winter on record,  the BBC reported.

Other countries, such as Canada, Mexico, Argentina and Turkey, have all reported mass bee deaths in the last 18 months.

The role of bees in the food chain is crucial.

They carry pollen from the male part of a plant to the female part of a plant, allowing the production of seeds.

If too many bees die, not only will we lose the plants they pollinate, but also the animals that eat them.

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