People aren’t the only creatures on this Earth that love hemp flowers. Apparently the crop is also all the rage among bees.
That’s right, bees love hemp flowers. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Biomass and Bioenergy, researchers discovered that hemp flowers are especially attractive to multiple bee species, especially the common honeybee. The goal was to figure out if hemp is “a potentially valuable source of pollen for foraging bees, which play a critical role in maintaining sustainable productivity in natural and agricultural ecosystems.”
To test this, researchers set up 10 traps at a couple different industrial hemp farms in Northern Colorado and caught bees for a total of five days. During that time, they collected a total of almost 2,000 bees from 23 different genera (species) including Melissodes bimaculata and Peponapis pruinose. However, 38% were classic honeybees.
“Industrial hemp can play an important role in providing sustained nutritional options for bees during the cropping season,” researchers mentioned. And when compared to other crops like the genetically modified canola flowers, it was no competition, the bees showed a strong preference for hemp flowers. This information could be very useful for ecologists trying to figure out how to curb the issue of declining bee populations.
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Furthermore, it wasn’t just bees benefiting from the hemp pollen, but also parasites of certain bees. Although the parasites weren’t taking the pollen directly from the hemp flowers, they were utilizing what was brought in by the bees. This indicates that hemp crops have the ability to create a diverse and dynamic ecosystem. Additional studies looking at the nutritional value of hemp pollen and if it’s a sufficient nutrient source for bee larva would further confirm this theory.
It’s important to keep in mind that the inevitable expansion of hemp crops across the United States could attract some unwanted pests as well. Ideally, farmers should figure out a pest management solution that’s welcoming to the bees while staving off critters that could potentially destroy their fields.
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