Hemp and Honey Bees are two of the most popular social topics in the world right now – and why shouldn’t they bee?  They’re two of the most powerful contributors to better overall human health and happiness.

CBD from Hemp provides seemingly endless potential to human health with its neuroprotective and anti-oxidant qualities. Honey bees provide some of the most potent immune-boosting byproducts, including raw honey, bees wax, and propolis, each contributing anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory benefits.  Combining CBD and Honey just makes sense!

On top of all benefits to our physiological health, Cannabis and honey bees also contribute to a more sustainable world.  As we currently face alarming rates of toxic emissions from fossil fuels and chemical and nuclear plants, the world needs some help keeping itself clean. 

Honey bees and Cannabis provide two of the answers.  

Hemp helps rid the world of harmful toxins, soaking up heavy metals from soils and encouraging ecological proliferation.  According to smithsonianmag.com, “Over the years, bees, honey and wax have been tested for fluoride, lead, zinc, nickel and potassium; more complicated molecules like naphthalene (a toxic compound derived from coal tar, and also the main ingredient in mothballs); even radioactive compounds like cesium, tritium and plutonium.”  Honey bees help rid the world of toxins and are responsible for 1/3 of the food we find so irresistible. Certainly, together, they make any location they co-inhabit a better place to live. They also provide all the essential nutrients humans beings need to survive. 

We need them both.

But do they need each other?

In order to understand what potential synergy might exist between them, we need to better understand their truest natures, independent of each other.

Bees need to feed

As Cannabis plants feed off of a specific combination of sunlight, water and soil nutrients, bees seek out their own specific formula from nature.  Inside the hive, larvae and queens feed off of pollen, densely packed with important amino acids, while worker bees feed off of nectar, rich in carbohydrates. 

Bees will fly up to 5 miles in search of pollen and look for flowers producing the largest repeatable quantities of nectar.  Nectar comes from male and female plants which require the assistance of insect pollinators.  The male plant first offers a minibar of delicious nectar to the bees, free of charge, teasing them with a small sampling of the goods.  Once the feast has begun, female plants offer up to 3 times the amount of nectar as the males, luring the bees with the male pollen to their flowers, completing a successful reproductive cycle. 

Cannabis plants reproduce by way of wind pollination and have no need to produce nectar, making them less attractive to the honey bees when other flowering plants are more available.  That’s not to say that male Cannabis plants and their pollen don’t help the honey bees.  Whitney Cranshaw, a professor of entomology at CSU’s Department of Bioagricultural Science and Pest Management, said “While hemp pollen is collected by bees, it is unlikely that there is any benefits to hemp from bee pollination.  The benefits is that it is a good source, present in late summer, that can be an important resource for bees when alternative pollen resources are not available.”

In order to have a sustainable amount of pollen to feed the bees, the field would need to be dominated by males.  If as a farmer, your goal is to capitalize on byproducts of male plants including seeds and fibers, your Cannabis plants can be a highly beneficial food source for the bees.  More studies will have to be conducted to see if any data appears suggesting the bees help in the propagation of the hemp.  

Arranging a Marriage

If Cannabis doesn’t have the natural honey bee draw of other plants, is it possible to get cannabinoids naturally into the honey.  The short answer, not naturally.  

There are several ways to “trick” the honey bee into landing on a female Hemp plants, which are rich in cannabinoids.  Once the bees have landed on the female flowers, they’ll stick to the cannabinoid-rich trichomes.   

How do you trick a bee?

  1. Spray your female buds with a sugar water as similar to the fructose/glucose profile of nectar, which will entice the bees to land.  
  2. Use bees to pollinate indoor grows (e.g. Greenhouse grows), which traps the bees inside and forces them to land on female Cannabis plants.  

These two methods result in bees picking up the cannabinoid-rich resins on their hairy bodies.  There are preliminary studies showing that these resins that have stuck to their bodies have made it into the propolis, an anti-microbial wax sealant that bees create for use in their walls. 

In conclusion, there is no evidence that honey bees will naturally produce CBD Honey by putting hives in near proximity to hemp varietals.  The Hemp produces beneficial pollen which can be a supplemental food source to the bees during food scarcity and the bees can use the Cannabis resins to produce propolis.   Here are some more questions with answers still to be determined:

Could honey bees minimize the pollen drift between hemp and marijuana fields for marijuana growers trying to prevent genetic cross-contamination?

Bees are known to increase fruit and seed production for other species of plants like strawberries and squash.  Will there be an increase to hemp seed set and yield through biological pollination?

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