A new study has shown that hemp can actually help save the bees! The plant provides an excellent source of nutrition when they need it the most!
The new study concludes that expanding hemp cultivation in the US could give bees valuable access to nutritious food during a time of year when little other options are available to them.
The study was carried out by researchers from Colorado State University. They set up bee traps throughout industrial hemp fields to determine whether hemp was “a valuable source of pollen for foraging bees.”
And it actually turns out it is!
The researchers collected almost 2,000 bees from 23 different bee genera.
Almost half of the bees caught in the traps were classic honeybees, but other specialized bees such as Melissodes bimaculata and Peponapis pruinosa showed up in surprisingly high numbers
Hemp flowers are known to be “prolific pollen producers,” and attract many insects due to their sticky, sweet resin. This makes them very attractive to bees!
What’s more, hemp flowers bloom at the the perfect time – right when bees need it the most.
Hemp normally flowers between the end of July and the end of September. During this time across central United States, other pollinator-friendly crop plants are scarce.
Colton O’Brien, a soil and crop scientist for Colorado State University and author of the study writes:
“Industrial hemp can play an important role in providing sustained nutritional options for bees during the cropping season,”
Hemp also provides the perfect habitat for bees as well as food.
The researchers stated that pollinators face debilitating challenges from a number of different stressors. They note that introducing more pollinating crops is absolutely vital to the survival of bees and the ecosystems they rely on.
This is especially true in the US, where mono-culture means that much of the land is dedicated to non-pollen producing plants that are covered in bee-harming insecticides.
Previous studies have looked at other crops such as GM canola flowers but they didn’t produce anywhere near the same volume or variety of bees. I guess you can’t beat nature…
The 2018 Farm Bill which was passed in December, dramatically altered the landscape of the US after hemp production was legalized. 80,000 acres are already under cultivation, with permits for another 15,000 acres awaiting approval.