Hemp/Cannabis is one of the fastest expanding crops in the American agriculture scene. The new wind of popularity for the Cannabis Sativa plant is raising awareness concerning its role in the bee extinction issue, we are facing today. As you may know, since the 1990s, beekeepers from everywhere have noticed a rapid disappearance of bees, and unexpected deterioration of honeybee colonies.
Bees are playing a major role in our food chain. Without them, our whole ecosystem lacks balance and the impact of their disappearance could be catastrophic. One-third of all the food we eat depends on their pollination.
The bee's disappearance has been linked to many things all of those being human-made. The number one enemy for the pollinators is pesticides. Other considerable threats are industrial mono agriculture leading to a loss of biodiversity, parasites/ pathogens and of course climate change.
Could the new wave of Cannabis Sativa L./ Hemp legalization help save or at least enhance the chance of survival of bees?
Because Hemp is mostly a wind-pollinated crop and it doesn't produce nectar, the expansion of this crop isn't giving us much hope for the bee colonies. Although the hemp plants don't require many pesticides, they are a natural bug repellant, therefore they are a safe environment for bees. Further, hemp is producing a big quantity of pollen when most of the other flowers aren't producing much in the agricultural landscape.
A study led in the New York Sate observed that hemp actually had the capacity to maintain nutritional resources to bee communities during the pollen deficiency period in other plants. This means hemp is helping the bees but also helping in preserving agroecosystem-wide pollination assistance of the other crops growing around them.
The pollen provided by the hemp plant is attracting different species of bees. After a closer examination of the plants and its new visitors (the bees), researchers discovered that the types and number of bees visiting a plant depend on the landscape context, and the phenotypic traits of hemp varieties.
This last experiment also permitted the analysts to determine all the species of bees visiting the hemp fields. Six-teen different types of bees have been identified so far. The main characteristic appealing to the pollinators is the height of the plant. A richer and more abundant variety of bees were found in taller hemp plant species.
To conclude despite its lack of need for bee pollinators to survive, hemp is a good place for bees to thrive and invigorate their colonies in our expanding concrete jungle world. Even without producing nectar cannabis is still a beneficial source of pollen for foraging bees.