Bees Love Cannabis and This Could be The Answer For Rebuilding The Bees Population

Bees love cannabis just like us, and the fact that a recent study has discovered that taller hemp plants attract a more significant number of bees reinforces the verity. In December 2019, researchers from Cornell University affirmed that humans are not the only ones who find hemp useful; bees, too, have now been added to the plant’s list of fans. However, this is not the first study that has confirmed this fascination of bee towards cannabis because a study published in 2018, by the students at Colorado State University delved into the same findings.

In the investigation, it was revealed that bees are attracted to cannabis primarily because of the plant’s abundant reserve of pollen. If science indeed explains the bees’ attraction towards hemp plants, then we can hopefully look forward to the scientists delineating ways to refurbish the insect’s deteriorating population and floral population.

As per the study, if the area covered by the hemp plant is higher, the chances of the bees being drawn towards the swarm will also automatically multiply. Furthermore, as we have already mentioned in the preceding section, the taller hemp plants magnetize 17 times more bees as compared to their shorter versions.

Bees are benefiting from hemp pollen.

Over time, more and more bees start frequenting the cannabis plants, a mechanism that can be equated with the “word-of-mouth” technique amongst us humans. The researchers also noticed that because hemp is constituted as a major cash crop that can be capitalized on in several ways, it is capable of sustaining at least 16 distinct species of bees in the northeastern part of the United States.

Now, you might find these facts about bees and their enthrallment towards the hemp plants oddly unsettling because neither does cannabis produce sweet nectar nor does the hemp flower exhibit a wide array of beautiful colors. Essentially, it is the male flowers of the hemp that work wonders; they are the ones that produce pollen to attract 16 subspecies of bees but the real reasons still being under a lot of conjecture. In contrast to this, the female flowers that produce the “weed” that humans smoke are principally ignored by the bees because they are not even actual flowers.

The findings are significant not because they have brought something new and exciting to the table, because if utilized sensibly, they can have a substantial impact on the suffering population of the bees that the United States has been working to retrieve for so long. The researchers affirmed that this amalgamation of bees and hemp doesn’t mean that we should be doubtful about the cannabinoid-rich pollen finding a way into our diets through honey with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Since ancient times, humans have been occupied with the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana. However, with the exposure of this new evidence, we can expect the cannabis plant to enhance the prospects of agriculture and nature in ways that we were not aware of before.

Mushroom Extracts Could Help The Bees

The bee population has been going steadily downhill since the late 1990s. It has given rise to what is known as ‘colony collapse disorder.’ It happens when a colony is left without many of its worker bees, leaving behind a queen and a few nurse bees. While the phenomenon used to be rarer, it has become much more common in recent years as it coincides with the overall declining bee population. 

Bee-killing pesticides are the biggest danger of all. Even when the pesticides are not being directly targeted at the bees, they have been immensely destructive to their habitat all the same. Many flowers and nest sites get contaminated from insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides, or even things such as dust from farm operations. 

As destructive as pesticides have been, they are sadly not the only threat to the bees. Far from it. There have been numerous other dangers. Among them being industrial agriculture, climate change, loss of biodiversity, lack of food for the bees, and diseases that impact the bees directly. 

The ‘deformed wing virus’ is up there in terms of its sheer devastation to the bee population. The virus causes the bees’ wings to come out shrunken and/or deformed, which oftentimes will completely prevent the bees from being able to fly. The virus also hampers their immune systems and shortens their lifespans. With their flying ability compromised, the bees also pollinate less plants. Not only that, but among the plants that do get pollinated, traces of the virus are left behind, potentially infecting other pollinators. 

The reishi mushroom, also known as Ganoderma lucidum and lingzhi, is a fungus that grows in various hot and humid locations in Asia.

Alas, most beekeepers do not have an efficient way to fight the virus. But that doesn’t mean that nothing can be done at all. As it happens, mushrooms have proven to be useful once again. This time around, it is the Fomes and Ganoderma mushrooms that have been able to benefit nature. 

It is at Washington State University where a lot of testing has been done. Using mycelium extracts taken from these mushrooms, scientists have been feeding the extracts to bees that are infected with deformed wing virus, whereupon the scientists study the affects of the mycelium and see if it has been beneficial in any way. In both indoor and outdoor experiments, the scientists’ findings were that the bees who fed on mycelium extracts came out a lot healthier than the bees who only drank sugar water. While the mycelium did not completely eradicate the virus, it did help reduce it by a significant degree. 

The results have been promising so far, but some of the results are still inconclusive, and more research will need to be done. It’s still being determined just how effective the mycelium extracts will be in the long run with helping to restoring bee colonies. The field studies so far took place over a two-month period during the summer. However, winter is the season where bees struggle the most, and as such, future studies will need to focus more on winter to see how many of the bees are able to survive the cold. 

Sources: 

https://www.wired.com/story/a-mushroom-extract-might-save-bees-from-a-killer-virus/ 

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colony_collapse_disorder 

 http://sos-bees.org/ 

 http://sos-bees.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/BeesInDecline.pdf