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Hemp & The “Canna-bees”

Written by Lydia Kariuki

There is a new “buzz” surrounding bees and cannabis (yes, pun intended). “Cannabees” has emerged as a term used to describe bees that are drawn to hemp and cannabis plants. Research has now shown that some bee species could benefit from their love of hemp.

The global bee population is on the verge of extinction due a rapid decline in pollen resources (floral pollen dearth). However, bees could soon be teaming up with humans to fight for federal legalization of cannabis.

A recent study published in Environmental Entomology revealed that hemp pollen could help support some bee species.[1]

The researchers collected information about bees that visited hemp farms in New York State. These data were analyzed to reveal each species of the bees. They found that 16 different species were attracted to hemp and benefited from hemp pollen; taller varieties of hemp attracted a more robust bee population.

The authors of the study concluded that hemp and cannabis cultivation could help support bee populations at times when there is a dearth in floral pollen because hemp flowers in periods that coincide with a scarcity of pollen from traditional sources (July to September). Given that bees help pollinate many plants, this could go a long way in ensuring the long-term sustainability of the ecosystem.

In case you are wondering if the cannabees get intoxicated from this kind of pollen, worry not, as this is highly unlikely. Bees lack an endocannabinoid system, which forms the basis for the interaction between cannabinoids and the human body.

As for symbiosis, it doesn’t appear to be the case. Hemp and cannabis plants are wind-pollinated. To date, there are no species that have shown any signs of potential for insect pollination. Clearly a one-sided relationship but the bees certainly don’t seem to mind.

Image Credit: Myriams-Fotos

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  1. Flicker NR, et al. The bee community of Cannabis sativa and corresponding effects of landscape composition. Environmental Entomology. 2020;49(1):197-202.

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Lydia Kariuki

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