Environmental Entomology recently published a study titled “The Bee Community of Cannabis sativa and Corresponding Effects of Landscape Composition.” The study looks into how bee populations could benefit from the plant.
While hemp plants don’t produce nectar, the pollen they let off is still a viable food source for bees. The study found that bees swarmed over the pollen and readily adapted it as a food source. The plant could help to keep local bee populations healthy when the local flora isn’t producing enough food to sustain them. For landscapes plagued by drought or stripped by modern farming practices, colonies will be thankful for everything they can get. With hemp being resistant to many diseases, the insects have a more robust food source. The fact that hemp is more often organic and pesticide free also helps to nourish the visitors without harming them.
During the study researchers observed different hemp fields of various sizes in New York, finding 16 different species of bees visiting the crops. To count the different bees that visited the plants, researchers used sweep net collections.
They observed hemp fields that contained many different cultivars. A simplified landscape caused less diversity in the bees that visited a field. The heights of the plants was a significant factor in determining what kinds of bees collected its pollen.
Being insects, bees are part of the only group of life forms that don’t have an endocannabinoid system. This means that, unlike humans, the affinity that bees have for the pollen is purely nutritional. They do not feel the psychoactive effects of either hemp or marijuana.
Researchers hope that farmers will take bees into account when growing their crops in the future and when deciding on which pesticides to use.