Whatever your opinion on bees, there is no question that we need them. In fact, mankind’s survival depends on their existence! Globally, there are around 20,000 kinds of bee, and we need them because they are the perfect pollinator. Up to 90% of the world’s most important crop types receive regular visits from bees. Moreover, one-third of the global food supply is pollinated by bees.
If the numbers of bees reach depletion, there will be a huge disruption in our food chain which could lead to severe suffering. Yes, there are other pollinating insects, but bees are the worlds’ most important ones. One-third of our food relies on bee pollination alone.
It’s currently estimated that one out of ten bee species is threatened with extinction. In Europe, the situation is so dire that, on the 18th of December, 2019, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for targeted measures to protect pollinators in the EU.
There are three main reasons that are responsible for the loss of population:
- Pesticides: This reason is the most pressing and most homicidal to bees and their colony. People, most commonly farmers, spray a pesticide on their crops to prevent possible damage by insects and pests. That same pesticide often ends up killing the very bee that is responsible for the continued growth of those plants. The bees that survive these pesticides, often become disoriented and forget how to get back to their hive, causing Colony Collapse Disorder.
- Habitat loss due to reasons such as deforestation.
- Climate Change
How cannabis could help bee colonies?
Turns out, even bees love the buzz, but for a slightly different reason than humans.
A new study by researchers at Cornell University published in the journal of Environmental Entomology finds that bees are super attracted to the cannabis plants because they can’t get enough of its sweet, sweet pollen. This study supports the results of a similar one conducted by Colorado University last year which has found that during peak hemp flowering season (when few pollinating crops were readily available to bees), there were more than 20 different bee genera attracted to the hemp plants.
The new study shows how bees are highly attracted to cannabis due to the plant’s plentiful stores of pollen, and it could pave the way for scientists to figure out new ways to support their struggling population as well as floral populations.
According to the study, the greater the area covered by the hemp plant the greater the chance that bees will swarm to the area. Additionally, those hemp plants that are taller have a much greater likelihood of attracting bees with the tallest plants attracting a stunning 17 times more bees than the shortest plants.
The study also found that as time went on greater amounts of bees visited the hemp plots on a more frequent basis. It sounds almost like the word-of-mouth effect among humans who hear about great deals at a dispensary, no?
The researchers also discovered that hemp, a major cash crop with multiple applications, can support no less than 16 different varieties of bees in the northeastern United States.
The findings may seem strange considering that cannabis doesn’t produce the sweet, sugary nectar that your typical floral varieties produce to attract insects. Nor does hemp flower come in the dazzling array of bright colors that likewise attract bugs. However, the pollen produced by male flowers is highly attractive to the 16 bee subspecies in the study for reasons that remain unknown.
Female flowers—the kind that humans like to smoke for its intoxicating and soothing effects—are basically ignored by bees since they don’t produce any actual flowers.
The study’s author’s wrote:
“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.”
What makes the findings so compelling is the crucial impact it could have on suffering bee populations across the United States.
The authors of the study made clear that the combination of bees plus hemp won’t mean that folks should worry about cannabinoid-rich pollen sneaking it into their diets nor will the bees start producing honey enriched with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—as nice as that sounds.
Marijuana is turning out to be good for all creatures! This new research shows that the plant can in fact help nature and agriculture in amazingly important ways.
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