Bees drive pollination across the world, and as such constitute a crucial factor in the global ecology. This is why a calamity known as the ‘colony collapse disorder’ (CCD) that has been ravaging honeybees’ population for 15 years now seriously endangers not just one species, but the entire ecosystem.
Whilst scientists across the globe are working on saving the bees, a Polish researcher has come across a possible solution by studying the properties of the hemp plant. Although the cannabis plant is not pollinated by bees (it is wind-pollinated), male flowers still lure the insects with their pollen. Now, it turns out that the plant can be giving bees much more than nutrition…
BEES AND PESTICIDES
As we know already, hemp is an excellent source of nutrients, and that’s also the case for bees! With a long vegetation period even in the northern hemisphere, and blooming later than most plants bees tend to feed on, hemp is providing the insects with pollen in a period of floral dearth.
Adding to that, last year, Polish research at the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University (UMCS) in Lublin revealed that hemp cannabinoids could in fact save bees in a much more direct way, by fortifying their response to pesticides.
As many reports suggest, pesticides – especially neonicotinoids – may be a significant contributor to the dreaded colony collapse disorder. The pesticides interfere with the small organisms on many levels, causing malnourishment and weakness, and even interfering with the bees’ sleep cycle.
To make things worse, even a single contact with pesticides can cause a domino effect, threatening the entire colony:
“After contact with pesticides, a bee can either die on the spot without returning to the hive, or it can transport insecticides on its body to the bee colony. In the second case, the entire family, the queen bee, other worker bees, brood and often honey and bee bugs are contaminated.” – explains professor Aneta Ptaszyńska who was leading the UMCS study.
The underlying mechanism of the harmful effect of the neonicotinoids has to do with the impact the pesticides have on bees’ neural systems, and it is by protecting their neural systems, we can protect them most efficiently.
Professor Ptaszyńska decided to tap into the neuroprotective properties of hemp cannabinoids to examine whether these well-documented benefits could in fact help shield honeybees from the detrimental effects of neonicotinoids.
The Lublin team studied around 10,000 bees in a controlled lab environment. As it turns out, the longevity of bees fed with hemp extract and exposed to pesticides was comparable with the lifespan of insects not exposed to either of these factors:
These promising results can most likely be attributed to the neuroprotective properties of hemp plant extracts, as the neural system is the area most affected by neonicotinoids.
SAVING THE BEES
As soon as the results of prof. Ptaszyńska’s team get confirmed by further studies, it can be expected that the first hemp-based products designed for bees will hit the market. In fact, Polish researchers have already filed a patent for their hemp oil.
It is yet to be examined whether the bees feeding off hemp fields are equally protected as the test group of insects fed the hemp plant extract, but one thing is certain – protecting the bees is yet another example of how the hemp plant can contribute in promoting biodiversity and creating a more sustainable future.
To learn more about the results of the Polish study, how hemp can help save the bees (and planet!), and how YOU can contribute, please join the Hemp for Humanity webinar, where prof Ptaszyńska will share the results of her research and where you can hear from many other Guest Speakers with the latest news about Hemp from around Europe:
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