Humans are not the only beings that like cannabis, bees love cannabis too! Two independent studies have shown that the sweet pollen of cannabis plants attracts 16 different species of bees. One study was conducted at the University of Cornell, the other study was held at the University of Colorado.
Cannabis the Miracle Plant
Growing Cannabis sativa (Cannabaceae) is still illegal in many countries around the world. Also known as industrial hemp, cannabis comes as separate male and female plants (dioecious). Male plants are taller and thinner than their female counterparts. They have flower-like pods that contain the fertilizing, pollen-generating anthers. Female flowers produce the famous buds. Growing cannabis does not require any special soil. It also does not require lots of water and is generally not prone to require too many pesticides.
Cannabis is a perennial plant valued for multiple reasons. it is exclusively wind-pollinated and grows from 6 to 15 ft. The plants expand rapidly and mature in 8 to 9 months. Trees in comparison take between 20 to 80 years to fully grow.
Cannabis, the Allrounder
All parts of this fast growing crop can be used for a wide range of purposes, including as a bast fiber plant, hemp, animal feed, building material, health supplements & beauty products, oil, and medicinal as well as recreational marijuana. Hemp is made from the durable fibers of the woody trunk. It is used to make ropes, cloth for sacks or finer cloth, as well as many other materials, including building material and paper. Commonly found in foods and drinks like cereal, candy, coffees, and teas, hemp is also found in beauty products, such as body lotions, make up, shampoo and jewelry.
In addition, cannabis is the most efficient producer of paper pulp. Annually, it produces almost 5 x more cellulose per acre than trees. Another benefit is that Hemp paper can be whitened with hydrogen peroxide and can be recycled up to 8 times. Paper made from wood pulp can only be recycled up to 3 times and requires the use of toxic bleaching. Hemp paper is also durable and longevity, unlike paper made from wood, it resists decomposition and does not yellow or brown with age. Using hemp as a wood substitute will contribute to preserving biodiversity and provide significant environmental benefits.
Do Bees get the buzz from Cannabis?
The short answer is No! This is because it appears that insects have no cannabinoid receptors. Although the plant does not produce nectar, it produces an abundance of pollen when flowering. This appears to be very attractive to various bee species, including honeybees, although they don´t get the same buzz as humans.
The study published in the journal Environmental Entomology discovered that taller cannabis plants covering a larger area attract 17 times more bees than shorter plants that grow individually or in smaller clusters. Bees are more attracted to the male plants that compared to their female counterparts have no buds. This came as a surprise to the researchers, as cannabis neither tastes of nectar, nor does it have vibrant colors that bees usually find attractive. They also seemed to prefer male plants.
Because flowering occurs naturally when the plant receives less light each day as summer turns into fall, hemp has the potential to provide a critical nutritional resource to a diverse community of 16 different species of bees during a period of floral scarcity. It therefore could help to sustain agroecosystem-wide pollination services for other crops in the landscape. The finding could be a major breakthrough to save the depleting population of bees across the globe.