Bees are the most valuable insects on our planet accountable for the pollination of the third of our crops that we enjoy on daily basis. But, their count has started to reduce and it became rather alarming starting from the nineties of the previous century.
In this period scientist have turned to the analyses of hemp and its benefits for the health of the people. It seems that the hemp can be very beneficial for the bee population as well.
According to a performed study at Cornell University, released in Environmental Entomology, the taller the hemp plants are, the more bees will flock to it. This study is in a way a confirmation of the findings of a previous study carried out at Colorado State University.
The researchers of this study have concluded that cannabis could be very attractive for the bees since it is packed with pollen stores. After this conclusion, a way should be established how to attract the bees to the hemp plants.
According to the findings of the study a larger the area covered by hemp would offer higher chances for the bees to visit these plants. It has been confirmed that the taller the plants are the more bees will come. Namely, the tallest ones can attract even 17 times more bees than the shortest ones.
Researchers made repeated sweep net collections of bees visiting hemp flowers on 11 farms in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. They found out that a larger number of bees visited the hemp flowers, and that they did it more frequently. What is very interesting is the fact that the pollen made by male hemp flowers is extremely attractive to these subspecies. However, the real cause for that occurrence, researchers cannot still determine it. Female flowers do not produce any actual flowers and the bees are not drawn to them. These flowers are the ones that people use for their soothing and intoxicating effects.
Furthermore, the analyses showed that hemp can support 16 different bee varieties in the northeastern United States, and the most commonly captured were A. mellifera (European honey bee – 60%) and B. impatiens (common eastern bumblebee – 30%).
The findings of the study’s authors are the following ones:
“The rapid expansion of hemp production in the United States… may have significant implications for agroecosystem-wide pollination dynamics.
As a late-season crop flowering during a period of seasonal floral dearth, hemp may have a particularly strong potential to enhance pollinator populations and subsequent pollination services for crops in the following year by filling gaps in late-season resource scarcity.”
“Hemp is a high pollen-producing crop flowering during a period of floral resource scarcity and supports a diverse array of bees in the northeastern U.S. landscape.
The rapid expansion of hemp production in the United States (Schluttenhofer and Yuan 2017) may have significant implications for agroecosystem-wide pollination dynamics. The potential for hemp to serve as a floral resource for bees is influenced by landscape composition, the height of hemp plants, and temporal factors.
Growers, extension agents, and policymakers should consider risks to bees as pest management practices are developed for this crop (Cranshaw et al. 2019).”
The presence of cannabinoids in hemp pollen is “not likely to have an impact on bee development due to the loss of cannabinoid receptors in insects.”
These new findings could be a way of saving the bee populations across the United States and this is of extreme value for the country’s agriculture and nature.
The authors of the study clarified the misconception of many people that through the homey we shall have a diet with THC. They emphasized that there is no risk of the entrance of cannabinoid-rich pollen into our diets, and the honey will not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).