Hemp could help sustain vitally important bee populations

Recent studies suggest that newly-legalized hemp may help a critically important species – bees.  

Scientists have been warning about the consequences of dwindling bee populations for years as these pollinators are responsible for about 70% of all food crops. 

And humans aren’t the only species that depends on the pollination provided by bees – a host of other animals depend on the plants pollinated by these creatures.

Colony collapse disorder (CCD), which affects beehives around the world, results in significant economic losses and is a serious threat to the ecosystem. 

Human activity such as the use of pesticides and deforestation is believed to have led to the rapid decline in bee populations. 

Researchers from Cornell University looked at bees in New York state and found that they are attracted to the nectarless hemp due to its abundance of pollen.

According to the study, hemp supports 16 different varieties of bees and could play an important role in helping these insects amid the dramatic decline in population across the globe.

“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,” the researchers wrote in the paper published in Environmental Entomology.  

The study also found a direct correlation between the height of the plant and attractiveness to bees, with scientists reporting that taller hemp attracts 17 times more bees than the shorter ones.

“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,” the study’s authors highlighted. 

Israeli company offers cannabis honey or CannaBeez 

The relationship between bees and cannabis is also known in the marijuana business.

Israeli cannabis technology company PhytoPharma International offers cannabis honey – honey containing medicinal cannabinoids which the company claims also helps bee colonies. 

Bees, which lack an endocannabinoid system, meaning they cannot get high from cannabis, produce the entirely natural honey that contains “up to 1,000 times lower measurable concentration of cannabinoids, compared to common treatment methods, well under 0.3%.”

“We combined the healing powers of cannabis with the amazing delivery capability of honey. We aim to continue to apply our unique brand of ‘nature-tech’ to cannabis medicine, food, and beverages, veterinary and cosmetic products,” chief executive of PhytoPHarma Ben Aharon told Forbes.

As for the well-being of the bees, PhytoPHarma claims their business model allows bees better nutrition (as opposed to the sugar syrup bees are fed in the honey industry) and could eventually lead to an increase in the population of the bees used to make their CannaBeez.

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