Hive of activity: Bondi beekeeper Lance Lieber blames the use of pesticides for the demise of two of his hives.

Hive of activity: Bondi beekeeper Lance Lieber blames the use of pesticides for the demise of two of his hives. Photo: Jacky Ghossein

Urban beekeepers are demanding Bunnings Warehouse remove all products containing neonicotinoids, a class of pesticides, after a European Union ban.

Spurred by the success of campaigners across Europe, Doug Purdie, of the Sydney Bee Club, is driving a petition for the national hardware chain to pull its Yates-branded pesticides off the shelf. It has already attracted more than 16,000 supporters.

''I'm worried about this toxin, which research shows harms bees,'' said Mr Purdie, who looks after 50 hives in Sydney. ''The reason I started beekeeping is because of their dying numbers around the world. We need to protect them.''

Natural order: A bee covered with pollen.

Natural order: A bee covered with pollen. Photo: Reuters

Two weeks ago the EU announced the ban of neonicotinoids, which an increasing number of studies had linked with colony collapse disorder.

''Major retailers don't care what type of pesticides they sell, only what type of pesticides their customers will buy,'' the petition against Bunnings reads.

Bunnings is aware of the petition and has received at least six complaints from consumers and beekeepers.

Bunnings managing director John Gillam said he would wait until a review on pesticides and pollination was completed by the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority. He said the company was working ''closely'' with the brand Yates, its major pesticide supplier.

''Bunnings complies fully with all APVMA regulations and requirements and takes matters of product stewardship and safety very seriously,'' he said.

A similar campaign against Home Depot and Lowe's in the US has attracted more than 100,000 signatures.

The Australian Honey Bee Industry Council will hold off on throwing its support behind the grassroots campaign until the APVMA review is completed, said Trevor Weatherhead, the council's executive director.

''In Australia, we don't have the same problems of dying hives as they do in Europe, so we'll wait for the review. The results should be out in a couple of months,'' he said.

But Mr Weatherhead said he could understand why the campaign started among urban beekeepers because the heaviest pesticide use was in the suburbs.

Lance Leiber, a beekeeper in Bondi, said two of his hives, housing 50,000 bees each, had died in the past six months. He blamed the used of pesticides nearby.

''We inspected for everything else and couldn't find another cause,'' he said. ''The bees stopped coming back to the hive.''

There are 10,000 registered beekeepers in Australia with 600,000 hives among them. A third are in NSW. A resurgence in keeping bees in backyards and rooftops has bumped up numbers.