According to a recent study, hemp plants can help reduce the death of bees. Reason: The insects seem to have a weakness for the pollen they contain. Leading scientists are now reaching out to farmers and politicians.
How do different types of bees react to cannabis plants? Scientists at Cornell University in New York State examined this in a study published in February. He appeared in the journal Ecological Entomology. To this end, in the summer of 2018, researchers examined eleven hemp farms of various sizes, including small arable land of up to ten thousand square meters of plantations. Result: 16 species of bees appear to have a weakness for cannabis.
Bees are interested in male hemp plants.
How popular bees are in certain cultures, according to researchers, depended on the nature of the surrounding landscape: the more intensively they are used in agriculture, the less attractive they are for small hairy insects. In addition, bees – unlike some people – were not interested in flowering female plants, which are rich in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of cannabis. Instead, male plants of the genus Sativa are popular with them. The larger the harvest, the more bees it attracts. Because male plants produce large amounts of pollen. The THC content does not affect the health of bees: they do not have cannabinoid receptors, and therefore cannot get high.
According to the study authors, it is not clear why bees are attracted to hemp. Because these plants do not seduce with sweet nectar and do not differ in a variety of bright colors.
Rising industrial agriculture, pesticide use and habitat destruction are making themselves felt: the German Beekeepers’ Association estimates that the number of bee colonies has dropped from 2.5 million to 1.4 million over the past 67 years. Thus, wild bees such as bumblebees or wasps are protected under the Federal Species Protection Ordinance (BArtSchV).
According to scientists, hemp plants can solve the problem. Because cannabis uses only a small amount of water and is not exposed to a lot of fertilizers. Therefore, in times of flower scarcity, plants can provide bees with an important source of nutrients. This, in turn, would mean that cannabis would support agronomic pollination services for other crops. Therefore, leading scientists advise farmers and politicians not to miss the opportunity to regenerate bees.
Georg Würth, managing director of the German Hemp Association, suggests the results could be carried over to Germany: “The cultivation of industrial hemp is legal in Germany. The only obstacle is the lack of recirculating structures for various possible applications.”