A new study published in the journal Biomass and Bioenergy suggests that hemp could play a role in maintaining bee diversity and help prevent bee die-off. The study comes on the heels of beekeepers reporting to the U.S. Department of Agriculture a 40 percent loss of their colonies over the last year.
The Colorado State University Department of Soil and Crop Sciences researchers found that 23 different genera of bees were found on flowering hemp plants “demonstrating that hemp in the agroecosystem supports pollinators.” Three genera – including the European honeybee – represented 80 percent of the total abundance on flowering hemp.
The researchers note that while “hemp does not produce any nectar, the pollen-rich nature of the flowers can make hemp an ecologically valuable crop.”
“As cultivation of hemp continues to expand, we expect insect pests on hemp to also become prevalent. Our results documenting bee diversity in flowering hemp provides the impetus for the development of integrated pest management plans that protect pollinators while controlling pests.” — Excerpt from the report via Biomass and Bio Energy, March 2019
The hemp crops were being cultivated in northern Colorado, between the end of July and the end of September when, according to researchers, there is “a dearth of pollinator-friendly crop plants in the region” which makes hemp flowers “a potentially valuable source of pollen for foraging bees.”
“Industrial hemp can play an important role in providing sustained nutritional options for bees during the cropping season,” the authors wrote, noting that hemp is wind-pollinated, dioecious, and staminate – all of which is attractive to bees.