Study: Diversity and abundance of bees on industrial hemp flowers
The cultivation of industrial hemp is gaining popularity and its prolific production of pollen can offer major ecological benefits. A study reveals that bees love hemp. Researchers have examined the hemp fields of northern Colorado on the species of bees present: 23 species have been listed, three genera accounting for nearly 80% of the total. The researchers concluded that "the pollen-rich nature of flowers can make hemp a culture of great ecological value."
Bees like hemp but they have been suffering for some time, the bee population is in very strong decline. This is of great concern because of the ecological importance of the bee as a pollinator. Bee pollinators continue to face challenges that make it critical to develop agro-ecological practices that support bees. According to some, the more hemp fields there will be more bees.
Industrial hemp can play an important role in providing sustainable nutritional options to bees during the growing season
Hemp plants pollinated by the wind, dioecious and staminate produce large amounts of pollen that attract bees. The bloom of hemp in northern Colorado, where this study was conducted, takes place between late July and late September. This period coincides with a shortage of pollinator-friendly crops in the region, making hemp flowers a potentially valuable source of pollen for bees in search of food.
This study reports 20 different kinds of bees on hemp in bloom and demonstrates that hemp in the agro-ecosystem supports pollinators.
We present here the diversity and the quantity of bees harvested in hemp fields in bloom. In total, 23 kinds of different bees were collected, including the European bee, Apis mellifera which accounted for 38% of all species and was the most dominant followed by Melissodes bimaculata for 25% and Peponapis pruinosa at 16%. These three genera accounted for almost 80% of the total population. Although hemp does not produce nectar, the pollen-rich nature of flowers can make hemp an ecologically valuable crop. As hemp cultivation continues to expand, we expect hemp insects to proliferate as well. Our results on bee diversity in hemp provide the impetus for the development of integrated pest management plans that protect pollinators while controlling pests.
Hemp could contribute to declining number of honey bees
This survey recent Colorado State University indicates that industrial hemp could help declining bee populations, a source of serious ecological problems, as it is an excellent source of pollen.
- According to the researchers, most hemp crops bloom between July and September, coinciding with a lack of pollen production from other crops.
- More than 2 000 bees (and 23 different types of bees, including the European bee) were collected during the study. The 23 bee types represent 80% of all types in the region.
- This discovery suggests that hemp is a new source of pollen for bees and could help maintain their populations.
- Bee colonies are declining in the United States because of stressors such as pests, pesticide exposure and malnutrition resulting from a lack of pollen, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The industrial variety is used, among other things, to create paper, clothing, textiles and biodegradable plastics. Industrial hemp does not produce nectar, which means that bees do not make honey from these plants.
It's not just bees. Birds, bats, butterflies and hummingbirds are all pollinators and are essential to the life cycle of crops and other flowering plants.
The authors of the study note that as hemp crops become more common, pests will become more commonplace. This is why the authors call for a plan that protects pollinators, such as bees, and manages pests that can damage crops.
Prevent bee dieback
The study comes in the wake of beekeepers who have reported in the US Department of Agriculture a loss of 40% of their colonies in the past year.
Industrial hemp can play an important role in providing sustainable nutritional options for bees during the growing season, "the authors wrote, noting that hemp is pollinated by wind, dioecious and staminate, which is attractive for the bees.
To read : Cannabis honey