The Hemp and the Bees. Do the Bees Need Hemp to Survive?
It’s estimated that around two-thirds of the food supply worldwide is directly or indirectly connected to the honey bee pollination. This implies that if the bees weren’t there, it would be a backbreaking struggle for human beings and other animals to survive.
It doesn’t end there, though. The bees also provide us with honey, a rich source of nutrients and antioxidants that help us stay healthy and reduce the risks of getting certain types of cancer, stroke, and heart attacks.
For the bees to survive, they rely on the pollen grains, which is their main protein source. Without this, any colony won’t be able to raise new young bees.
What’s the Connection Between Bees and Cannabis?
The connection between bees and cannabis is an interesting one. It’s not only turning heads in the marijuana industry but also in the entrepreneurial world.
For the bees, the marijuana industry provides a stable pollen source, while the bees offer the industry with a hot new product.
The Hemp Could Save the Bees
According to a recent survey report, in early 2019, the US beekeepers lost around 40 percent of the honeybee colonies they were rearing. This was the highest loss in 13 years, and lack of pollen was pointed out as one of the primary culprits for this loss.
It is interesting that the hemp naturally begins to flower when the other flowering plants have completed their blooms. This is usually between July and September when bees need protein and fat the most, but other plants are not flowering.
It is also worth noting that the hemp isn’t a natural source of nectar, so the bees won’t rely on it to make honey. However, it comes in handy when the bees need a boost to feed and raise the young ones to ensure the colony doesn’t go extinct.
Moreover, there are not many regions where flowering plants are grown on a large scale, making it difficult for the bees to survive when the bloom seasons are gone. The hemp flowers are, however, prolific pollinators, and self-compatible, making it a viable pollen source for the long term.
Why do Bees Collect Cannabis Pollen?
In a study conducted in Colorado, researchers observed that bees frequented the hemp fields in the late summer months. According to the report, 23 species of bees in Colorado were trapped in the hemp fields in a one-month experiment project.
It is worth noting that the lifespan of the honeybees is very short. In fact, adult worker bees only live for about six weeks during the summer seasons.
When these adults die, the bees must have new adults that will take on the responsibilities of the colonies, and this is where the cannabis pollen comes in. The nurse bees consume them to produce the brood food (royal jelly) that is used for feeding the larva.
So basically, the role of pollen in the bee colony is to help with the rearing and feeding of the young worker bees being introduced to the brood.
Can Bees Use Cannabis Pollen to Make Honey?
As you probably know, bees use nectar as one of the primary ingredients for making honey and they do not use the pollen directly for this activity. However, the colonies need stable pollen supplies if they have to make enough honey to sustain them.
Enter the ‘Cannahoney’. There have been attempts to make honey using cannabis plant contents, and in 2016, Nicolas Trainer, a beekeeper and marijuana advocate, tried to make ‘Canahoney’.
In this project, Nicolas trained his bees to use cannabis resins in honey production. From this, the bees produced the cannabis-infused honey that Nicolas dubbed cannahoney.
According to him, cannahoney could have even more powerful health benefits compared to general marijuana products. There is also an Israeli based company that drew inspiration from this project to develop another known as ‘cannabeez’.
According to Forbes, the company feeds the bees trivial CBD amounts, thus producing honey that comes with CBD health benefits. This end product is made by the bees only and believed to not only offer pain relief but also alleviate anxiety and helps improve sleep with no chemical or intoxicating effects.
The Advent of Hemp in the US
Commercial marijuana production in the US had been outlawed for around 70 years. In 2014 however, its production in the US increased substantially after the approval of the US Farm Act.
Fast forward to 2018, the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill paved the way for farmers to produce hemp and its products commercially. At the time of writing this piece, over 40 states have approved commercial hemp production within their jurisdictions.
There are lots of science-backed benefits of using hemp today. Some of these include;
Improving Skin health: Hemp seed oil is rich in fatty acids and vitamins that can help keep your skin healthy and free from oxidation, inflammation, and other aging symptoms. You can use this in the form of lotions and sprays, among others.
Pain and stress relief: You can also get CBD oils from CBD websites like Botanicam to help with pain and stress relief. If you don’t prefer the prescription pain medications, high quality CBD oil can help you manage the pain, especially if it’s due to inflammation. For stress relief, you can ingest the cannabidiols in the form of gummies, sublingual oils, or vape liquids.
Heart and Brain health: Hemp seed oil is also jam-packed with essential compounds, such as lime polyphenols, that can help improve brain health and protect it against inflammation. According to this 2014 review, alpha-linolenic acid prevents in hemp oil can also risk the risks of getting cardiovascular disease.
You can also infuse the CBD oil with honey or beverages to get rid of the ‘weedy‘ taste and enjoy it. If you’re going to use them for medication purposes, it’s prudent that you work with a health expert to help you find the right dosage amounts.
More Cannabis Equals to More Bees
From the research reports, it would make sense to conclude that bees need more cannabis to survive. Nevertheless, farmers must also be keen on their choice of pesticides to avoid impacting the bees and the quality of honey that they make.