In Australia and western Canada, neonic-coated seads are typically placed in the ground via a gravity-fed metering system (box drill), or via an air drill that blows the seed into the ground behind shanks that open the soil. So dust particles laden with neonics get buried in the soil where bees won't be exposed directly to them. In the midwest US and eastern Canada, where the crops are predominantly things like soybeans or corn, they use vacuum planters which suck the seeds from storage one at time and drop them into the ground. Unfortunately the vacuum planters blow a lot of dust from the seeds into the air. So neonic-laden particles get blown everywhere and we know they affect bees and any other insect. So it could very well be that widespread use of vacuum planters is a part of the problem. Unfortunately air drills don't work very well for row crops that do best with rows of singulated seeds.
The Alberta Bee Keepers Commission refuses to back any attempt to completely ban neonic use in Canada as it would decimate their industry. Fewer crops means fewer bees are required by farmers.
The reason neonics are used is that when the plant is young, the neonics are taken up through the plant and make the plant toxic to pests that would eat the little leaves, killing the plant. On one of my dry bean fields last year was seeded without neonic seed treatment, and we did see some yield reduction from pests eating the plants at an early stage, including from works eating the shoots underground. If there's a chance neonics can be used safely, then for sure they are a huge benefit.
There is the other issue of neonics present in the pollen, leading to bees getting a bit of a buzz. It's not clear to me how much neonic there is in the flower at that late stage of the plant's growth, or what the consequences of that are. Bees around here are heavily used to pollinate hybrid canola, all of which was treated with neonics. So it's really hard to say what the consequences are.
It's true we can control the use of pesticides, and we should and do. This doesn't have to mean an outright ban. A complete ban would mean the return to more toxic insecticides being sprayed at more regular intervals on a crop, which none of us wants.