Cannabis and Bees: Can cannabis contribute to restoring bee populations?
When we think about bees many of us are worried about the declining bee population. Bee’s are an important part of the plant pollination process and therefore to the growth of our food, so the fear is real. “At least 30% of the world’s crops and 90% of all plants require cross-pollination to spread and thrive, and here in Canada, bees are our most important pollinators,” according to Premier Tech. Though bees are not only responsible for pollination, they have many roles in our environment. There are some things that individual gardeners can do to influence the bee population. But did you know the cannabis industry can also contribute to restoring bee populations? New research states that bees love cannabis. And cannabis can contribute to restoring bee populations. But before we get into that let’s talk about why bees are important.
5 Ways Bees Are Important
|Pollination||To germinate, plants require the transfer of pollen from the male part of the flower (the anther) to the female part (the stigma). As bees move from flower to flower in search of nectar, they leave behind grains of pollen on the sticky surface, allowing plants to grow and produce food.|
|Wild Plant Growth||It’s not just farm-grown fruits and vegetables that rely on pollinators to thrive. Many species of wild plants depend on insect pollinators as well. Bees are responsible for the production of many seeds, nuts, berries, and fruit, which serve as a vital food source for wild animals.|
|Food Source||Bees produce honey to feed their colonies. Humans have harvested honey for thousands of years, but we aren’t the only ones who do. Animals like birds, racoons, opossums, and insects will raid beehives for a taste of nutritious honey.|
|Wildlife Habitats||Bees are known for their elaborate hives, but they also help build homes for millions of other insects and animals. Their role as pollinators is vital in the growth of tropical forests, savannah woodlands, and temperate deciduous forests. Many tree species couldn’t grow without pollinators like bees.
If bees disappeared, the animals that depend on these plants for survival would vanish as well.
|Biodiversity||As pollinators, bees play a part in every aspect of the ecosystem. They support the growth of trees, flowers, and other plants, which serve as food and shelter for creatures large and small. Bees contribute to complex, interconnected ecosystems that allow a diverse number of different species to coexist.|
Cannabis and Bees
New research suggests bees love cannabis and that growing cannabis has the potential to provide a unique solution to the declining bee populations. The love of cannabis by bees may seem surprising, due to the fact that cannabis doesn’t produce the sweet, sugary nectar that the typical floral varieties produce to attract insects.
So, why are bees attracted to cannabis?
The study shows bees are attracted to cannabis due to the plant’s plentiful stores of pollen. But bees don’t appear to be attracted to the female flowers, since they do not produce any flowers, but rather are attracted to the male plants. This is the one way they differ from humans.
Another study states that “while hemp does not produce any nectar, the pollen-rich nature of the flowers can make hemp an ecologically valuable crop. In addition, access to crucial phytochemicals through pollen and nectar from diverse plant sources is important for improved survival and pathogen tolerance in honey bees.” This indicates that not only do we benefit from the pollination provided by the bees, but they also benefit.
What types of cannabis plants do bees like best?
According to these studies, 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.
It’s also interesting to note, that as time went on greater amounts of bees visited the hemp plots on a more frequent basis. It sounds like the bees are sharing with each other, another very human-like trait.
So, what does this mean for the bees population?
According to the authors of the study “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.”
More research and innovative ideas are needed to help the declining bee populations. But this is something everyone in the cannabis industry should be conscious of. Moreover, protecting the bees is an important part of protecting the industry as well as the planet. So, whenever possible we should be considering ways to support the bees through the production of cannabis as well as growing practices. This includes conscious pest management strategies that do not endanger the bees.
On a personal level, we can all get involved in various ways. Consider planting a bee garden or adding bee-friendly plants to your existing garden. Or even consider beekeeping yourself. Beekeeping is easier than you think, check out this father-son duo who help create 51,000 new bee colonies with their invention. Just make sure to check out your cities guidelines on beekeeping before you invest. Here are the guidelines for Vancouver.