At Entomology 18, an annual meeting covering insect zoology, researchers Colton O’Brien and Arathi H.S. Seshadri presented findings that indicate hemp fields provide bees with late-season pollen that could help save stressed and endangered bees.
Entomology student Colton O’Brien of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado surveyed bees over the course of a month. O’Brien’s traps caught 23 out of the 66 known bee varieties local to Colorado.
While male hemp flowers don’t produce nectar, bees are attracted to the pollen, which can last much longer throughout the season than other plant species. Bees collect the pollen as food for their young larvae, in a strict operational format.
“At this point in the season many crops have completed bloom leading to a dearth of nutritional resources for pollinators,” researchers wrote. “Thus, hemp becomes a valuable pollen source for foraging bees, giving it the potential to have a strong ecological value. We describe the diversity and abundance of bees in flowering hemp. We recovered 23 unique bee genera and a diverse number of other insects in hemp fields.”
O’Brien learned that hemp pollen can serve as an essential ingredient to honeybee health. He added that with the proposed Hemp Farming Act of 2018 underway, industrial hemp production could skyrocket, but using pesticides that are safe for bees is critical.
Meanwhile, companies like PhytoPharma International already know that bees enjoy cannabis pollen, and released cannabis-infused honey. They’ve noted that the bees process the cannabinoids themselves, and they aren’t infused by human hands.
A few species of bees have been added to the endangered species list. Honeybees in particular are important pollinators, as 70 percent of global crops depend on honeybees for survival. Colony Collapse Disorder is one of the diseases puzzling scientists and The United States Environmental Protection Agency, and a bee apocalypse is a real issue. These new findings may prove yet another way in which hemp can help save the environment.