Recently something very interesting has come forth, with so many touting the benefits of cannabis it seems even the bees may benefit. This study that comes from Cornell University and was published in the Journal of Environmental Entomology is one we should all be aware of.
Apparently, the taller the cannabis plants are and the larger area they cover the more bees will flock to them. Bees seem to be quite attracted to cannabis farms overall and that these plants could support bee populations. It should also be noted bees don’t love these plants because they can get high since bees cannot get high. They lack the receptors needed to be able to feel anything off of cannabis in that sense. Actually they prefer the plants that don’t produce the buds anyways and tend to shy more towards the ones you’d use for hemp products. These findings might not sound like much, but they could really help us in finding ways to stabilize populations overall when it comes to bees since so many have been dying off.
The abstract of this study goes as follows:
Industrial hemp, Cannabis sativa (Cannabaceae), is a newly introduced and rapidly expanding crop in the American agricultural landscape. As an exclusively wind-pollinated crop, hemp lacks nectar but produces an abundance of pollen during a period of floral dearth in agricultural landscapes. These pollen resources are attractive to a range of bee species but the diversity of floral visitors and their use of hemp across a range of agricultural contexts remains unclear. We made repeated sweep net collections of bees visiting hemp flowers on farms in New York, which varied in both landscape context and phenotypic traits of hemp varieties. We identified all bee visitors to the species level and found that hemp supported 16 different bee species. Landscape simplification negatively impacted the abundance of bees visiting hemp flowers but did not affect the species richness of the community. Plant height, on the other hand, was strongly correlated with bee species richness and abundance for hemp plots with taller varieties attracting a broader diversity of bee species. Because of its temporally unique flowering phenology, hemp has the potential to provide a critical nutritional resource to a diverse community of bees during a period of floral scarcity and thereby may help to sustain agroecosystem-wide pollination services for other crops in the landscape. As cultivation of hemp increases, growers, land managers, and policy makers should consider its value in supporting bee communities and take its attractiveness to bees into account when developing pest management strategies.
As that last bit notes, we should consider this crop in the battle to ‘save the bees.’ While it might not sound like much this is a huge find in many ways. The more we can do for bees the better and with the world of cannabis booming its a step we could realistically take.
Vice wrote as follows when these findings first came to light:
These findings are kinda confusing when you consider that cannabis neither has a nectary taste nor the vibrant colours that generally catch the attention of bees. However, the bees are more into the male plants that usually grow alongside the flowering female ones that produce the bud you put into your bongs, but have no psychoactive properties. This study is especially crucial given that bees are responsible for the cross-pollination of flowers that furthers the growth of the fruits and vegetables we need for survival. Except, thanks to pesticides, habit destruction and climate change, the bees seem to be buzzing off, something that the marijuana plant could help put a stop to since they also don’t generally use too many pesticides, nor require too much water for their growth.
But what’s even better about these canna-bees is that they bring with them immense industrial potential. Israeli cannabis technology company PhytoPharma International developed a natural cannabinoid-dosed honey that allows bees to fuse THC and CBD into their honey by an IP-protected pollination process. Now if that’s not worth the buzz, we don’t know what is.
For more information on this topic take a look at the video below. Isn’t it amazing how something so simple may end up being able to make such a big change? I for one am all for using cannabis crops to help support more bee colonies.