According to a study published in the journal Biomass and Bioenergy earlier this year, planting more hemp could help to maintain bee populations which have become dangerously low in recent years.
The study was conducted by researchers at Colorado State University, who set up harm-free traps for bees at large hemp farms throughout the state. They spent about five days during peak growing season collecting bees from the various farms to see how many were attracted to the hemp crops.
The researchers noted in their study that since hemp plants produce large amounts of pollen, bees are often attracted to them. Hemp plants are especially attractive to bees because they are “wind pollinated, dioecious and staminate.”
The abstract of the study explained that, “A total of 23 different genera of bees were collected of which the European honeybee, Apis mellifera at 38% of the total abundance was the most dominant followed by Melissodes bimaculata at 25% and Peponapis pruinosa at 16%. These three genera made up nearly 80% of the total abundance. “
Essentially, hemp plants produce a large amount of pollen, which means that the crop could be a great benefit to bee populations as the industry continues to grow.
“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. Further studies analyzing the nutritive value of hemp pollen, would provide strong evidence in support of the ecological benefits,” the study concluded.
However, the researchers also voiced concerns that there will be an issue with pests on the crops as the industry expands. This could lead to companies using various pesticides, which will interfere with their ability to pollinate, and could even potentially harm bees.
“Our results documenting bee diversity in flowering hemp provides the impetus for the development of integrated pest management plans that protect pollinators while controlling pests,” the researchers advised.
As Truth Theory reported last month, a specific type of mushroom extract can help honeybees fight off a devastating virus that is suspected of contributing to the massive bee die-offs.
If you ever felt like you would be interested in beekeeping, it is now easier than ever with simple new designs that allow people to enter the vocation with very little experience or exposure to the bees.