The group has written a judicial review pre-action letter to Secretary of State for the Environment, Liz Truss MP, as the prospective defendant.
The action has been taken after Defra and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) failed to supply Friends of the Earth with information on the criteria and process used to permit a derogation from the EU ban, "despite being asked numerous times for this information", the lobby group said.
Greenpeace said that the Government's authorisations for the use of these pesticides for a limited period this autumn (on oil seed rape) appear to contain no conditions to address concerns about the risk to bees from their use, nor any reasons to explain why the authorisations are regarded as a necessary 'emergency' measure.
Friends of the Earth's action will "require Defra to release proper information about the Government's basis for this decision and details of what controls are in place regarding the use of pesticides, which will determine whether or not the legal challenge will proceed".
Commenting on the legal action, Friends of the Earth's senior nature campaigner, Paul De Zylva, said: "The huge public interest in bee decline and pesticide use contrasts with the Government's excessive secrecy and handling of this decision to let bee-harming pesticides back into our fields this autumn.
"Ministers pledged their decisions would be based on science but it has been hard obtaining information, including about the scientific basis, despite repeat requests.
"We have now sent a legal letter because of the lack of information, raising concerns about the decision-making process and the lawfulness of the decision."