Study: Diversity and abundance of bees on industrial hemp flowers
The cultivation of industrial hemp is growing in popularity and its prolific production of pollen can provide major ecological benefits. Study finds bees love hemp. Researchers examined the hemp fields of northern Colorado for the bee species present: 23 species have been recorded, with three genera accounting for nearly 80% of the total. The researchers concluded that "the pollen-rich nature of flowers can make hemp a crop of great ecological value".
Bees love hemp but they have been suffering for some time, the bee population is drastically decreasing. This finding is very worrying because of the ecological importance of the bee as a pollinator. Bee pollinators continue to face challenges that make it crucial to develop agroecological practices capable of supporting bees. According to some, the more hemp fields there are, the more bees there will be.
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 which attract bees. Flowering of hemp in northern Colorado, where this study was conducted, occurs 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 foraging bees.
This study reports 20 different genera of bees on flowering hemp and demonstrates that hemp in the agro-ecosystem supports pollinators.
Here we present the diversity and quantity of bees harvested from flowering hemp fields. In total, 23 different bee genera were collected, including the European honey bee, Apis mellifera which represented 38% of all species and was the most dominant followed by Melissodes bimaculata for 25% and Peponapis pruinosa for 16%. These three genera represented nearly 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 pest insects to proliferate as well. Our results on bee diversity in hemp provide the impetus for developing integrated pest management plans that protect pollinators while controlling pests.
Hemp could contribute to decline in honey bee numbers
This survey recent from Colorado State University indicates that industrial hemp could help declining bee populations, which is causing serious ecological problems, because it is an excellent source of pollen.
- According to the researchers, most hemp crops flower between July and September, coinciding with a lack of pollen production from other agricultural crops.
- More than 2 bees (and 000 different types of bees, including the European honey bee) were collected during the study. The 23 types of bees represent 23% 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 in decline in the United States due to stressors such as parasites, exposure to pesticides 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 biodegradable paper, clothing, textiles and 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 in the life cycle of crops and other flowering plants.
The study authors note that as hemp crops become more widespread, pests will become more and more common. That's why the authors are calling for a plan that protects pollinators, like 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 wind-pollinated, dioecious and staminated, which is attractive to the bees.
To read : Cannabis honey