An alarm was recently raised about the fact that insects are doing particularly badly. Bees - essential for the pollination of many crops - are also suffering. But luckily there is hope on the horizon for them in the form of ... hemp! American research shows that the crop attracts a variety of bee species.
Hemp, good for humans and animals
Extra good news is, of course, that the US legalized industrial fiber hemp at the end of last year, so there is a good chance that more hemp will be planted quickly. And that is not only positive because you can extract CBD from it and make tens of thousands of environmentally friendly, sustainable products.
No, it turns out that bees also love these hemp fields and that can be very useful in introducing and expanding sustainable, agricultural and horticultural practices! We hope that we do not have to explain to you that the environment and the climate on earth need it urgently…
Hemp pollen as bee food
Anyway, the gratifying bee research is published in the March issue of the scientific journal Biomass and Bioenergy, under the title "Bee diversity and abundance on flowers or industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa L.)".
Researchers at Colorado State University set ten traps in industrial hemp fields in northern Colorado. In it they collected bees for five days during the peak of the flowering season. At that time there were few other crops pollinating in this region. That is why the team of scientists wanted to know if the non-psychoactive niece of cannabis is "a potentially valuable source of pollen for foraging bees." Pollen that play a crucial role in maintaining "sustainable productivity in natural and agricultural ecosystems".
Many bees love hemp
When the researchers emptied their insect traps and studied the collection, they found almost 2,000 bees of 23 different species. Most of them - 38 percent to be precise - were classic honey bees. But there were also special varieties such as Melissodes bimaculata and Peponapis pruinosa and also in "surprisingly high numbers".
The result in Colorado also shows that hemp flowers are "uniquely attractive" for bees, since previous reports on bee populations and diversity in (genetically modified) rapeseed did not yield such volumes or varieties. "Industrial hemp can play an important role in providing a stable diet for bees during the growing season," the scientists said.
Hemp as a remedy for decreasing number of bees
But this study may also be helpful for ecologists and their attempts to combat the decline of bee colonies. The insects "continue to face debilitating challenges thanks to a number of different stress factors," the researchers write, "but the greatest is the overall health of their living environment."
Finding a suitable crop to pollinate and thus improve their living environment is therefore essential for the lives of bees and the ecosystems they inhabit. "Hemp can therefore be an ecologically valuable crop, the flowers of which are attractive to human-held honey bees and a large number of wild bee species," conclude the scientists.
"In addition, access to crucial phytochemicals via pollen and nectar from various plant sources is important for better chances of survival and pathogen tolerance (a pathogen is a pathogen of biological origin, ed.) In honey bees," said the Colorado research team. They are convinced that "further studies investigating the nutritional value of hemp pollen will provide strong evidence for the environmental benefits".
With all this beauty, however, it is important for humans to be careful with pest control, especially if the number of hectares of hemp - thanks in part to legalization - is greatly expanded ...