Next year nations gather again in Rio de Janeiro, 20 years after the Rio Earth Summit, to evolve international efforts to achieve sustainable development including through accelerating and scaling-up a transition to a low carbon, resource-efficient Green Economy.

Part of that transition should include investing and re-investing in the world's nature-based services generated by forests and freshwaters to flower meadows and coral reefs.

"Rio+20 is an opportunity to move beyond narrow definitions of wealth and to bring the often invisible, multi-trillion dollar services of nature-including pollination from insects such as bees- into national and global accounts," said Mr Steiner.

"Some countries, such as Brazil and India, have already embarked on that transformation as part of a partnership between UNEP and the World Bank. It is time to widen and embed this work across the global economy in order to tip the scales in favour of management rather than mining of the natural world and that includes the services of pollinators," he added.

The new report on bee colony disorders has been led by researchers Dr Peter Neumann of the Swiss Bee Research Centre and Dr Marie-Pierre Chauzat of the French Agency for Environmental and Occupational Health Safety. The team also included Dr Jeffrey Pettis of the United States Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service.

Dr Neumann said: "The transformation of the countryside and rural areas in the past half century or so has triggered a decline in wild-living bees and other pollinators. Society is increasingly investing in 'industrial-scale' hives and managed colonies to make up the shortfall and going so far as to truck bees around to farms and fields in order to maintain our food supplies".

"This report underlines that a variety of factors are making these man-made colonies increasingly vulnerable to decline and collapse. We need to get smarter about how we manage these hives, but perhaps more importantly, we need to better manage the landscape beyond, in order to cost-effectively recover wild bee populations to far healthier and more sustainable levels," he added.