When it comes to marijuana, most growers consider bugs as hostile threats and do all they can to exterminate any invaders. Bees are the exception to the rule of weed warfare. In fact, beekeepers and cannabis cultivators have more than a few things in common.
The relationship between bees and cannabis is making headlines in both the scientific and entrepreneurial world. And it just may be a match made in heaven.
Case in points: A recent experiment shows that hemp may produce a needed pollen source for stressed-out bees. And an Israeli company is marketing honey made by bees who are fed cannabidiols.
Both represent unusual bee-related stories, even by the standards of an insect that has provided many strage stories and unsolved mysteries through the years.
The good news for bees is that the marijuana industry may provide them a needed source of pollen. The good news for the marijuana industry is that bees may give it a hot new product.
Bees and Hemp
A researcher in Colorado recently found that bees have visited hemp fields in the Rocky Mountain State, apparently using the plants as a source of pollen during the late-summer months.
In a paper delivered in November at an entomology conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, Colton O’Brien, a student at Colorado State University, reported that representatives of 23 bee species living in Colorado had been caught in traps in the hemp fields during a one month experiment in August.
The project was essentially started because of an observation: “You walk through fields and you hear buzzing everywhere,” O’Brien said at the conference. He even named his paper, “What is with all the buzzing?”
To find out why O’Brien conducted the study at two experimental hemp farms in northern Colorado where hemp flowers between late July and early September. The flowering falls during a time when other crops have completed their blooming periods, leading to a lack of nutritional sources for pollinators such as bees.
This can lead to bees becoming stressed as they try to find pollen sources. Bees need pollen to feed their young.
While hemp plants do not produce nectar, they do produce a wealth of pollen. ”Thus, hemp becomes a valuable pollen source for foraging bees, giving it the potential to have a strong ecological value,” the report stated.
Can Bees Get High On Cannabis?
Insects, unlike humans and other mammals, don’t have an ECS or endocannabinoid system. This means they have no cannabinoid receptors. So it’s a definitive no; bees can’t get high from cannabis because they can’t access the THC. In nature, wild honey bees are drawn to colourful, nectar-producing plants. Sticky green weed trees are not a first choice destination. Also, worker bees are effectively 24/7 slaves to the Queen and have little time for recreational drug use.
Can Bees Feed On Cannabis Plants?
It looks like yes, bees can feed on cannabis. Nick French and his company Colorado Hemp Honey have made some fascinating discoveries. Bees also might be able to convert some of the resin into propolis. This is kind of like a two-in-one poly-filler and steriliser that bees use to repair and clean the hive. There are theories that the bees are somehow processing the trichomes into honey, but so far we’ve seen nothing that will stick.
What seems more likely is that apiarists can train a colony of bees to forage from a ganja field if they have nothing else, rewarding them with a treat like sugar water afterwards. It’s a great YouTube video, but doesn’t prove anything. So let’s stick with the facts. We know cannabis is not a nectar-producing plant. If the cannabis oils offer any sustenance to the bees, they will only go for it as a last resort or if rewarded for doing so. Furthermore, cannabis is a wind-pollinated plant, so bees play no role in pollination either.
The Golden State
At this point, you might be a little puzzled by how bees and cannabis could be so closely connected when it appears in nature they are not exactly drawn to each other. The glue that holds this unlikely partnership together is us, humans. California creates the most crystal clear picture of this coalition every summer.
The vast 1 million+ acre almond orchards of the Golden State need millions of bees to be trucked into the state by beekeepers from all over the US to pollinate the trees. If you thought the West Coast farmland only had a worldwide reputation as weed country, you were wrong. Outdoor Cannabis cultivation is concentrated in the Emerald Triangle and a few pockets further south, but almond trees are everywhere.
So to thread this connection together succinctly, the economy of California would crash without bees and cannabis. The Golden State wouldn’t glitter without either one. We can also follow this logic to formulate an alternative trends forecast. Perhaps the seasonal spike in economic activity and employment has more to do with the numbers of bees and cannabis plants in the state than anything else. Seriously, we might have scooped Gerald Celente and the Trends Research Institute on this one.
The bees might not be able to make psychoactive honey, but we can certainly infuse it with cannabinoids later. It need not be get-you-high-honey, as you could always add CBD and create a non-psychoactive healthy honey. With a little experimentation, you can blend custom cannabis-infused honey in your own kitchen. It’s best to prepare a cannabis tincture first and then add this to the honey. Mixing raw reefer with honey is just a sticky mess.