Q: Why do bees buzz?
A: Because they can't whistle!
There’s your Dad joke for this week, but make sure you tell your kids afterward that it’s not true. The correct answer for a test at school is that it’s the sound of their wings beating, but the real place where bees get their buzz is the nearest cannabis field. It’s true … bees buzz for buds, Bud!
“Hemp is a high pollen producing crop flowering during a period of floral resource scarcity and supports a diverse array of bees in the northeastern U.S. landscape."
In a new study published in the journal Environmental Entomology, researchers in the Department of Entomology at Cornell University in New York wondered if the growing legalization of cannabis for recreational, medical and industrial purposes is having any effect on bees. While marijuana is still illegal in New York, industrial hemp is a fast-growing industry and the flowers are essentially the same. In a simple test (repeat visits to New York hemp farms and collected bees with nets), the researchers found 16 different bee species happily buzzing around the buds. That variety highlights the “species richness” of Cannabis sativa when it comes to attracting bees.
“Industrial hemp offers a unique floral resource to bees in agricultural landscapes. Hemp flowers late in the summer releasing an abundance of pollen during a period of native and agricultural floral dearth. As a result, hemp pollen may offer a vital subsistence resource to bees at a point in the season when they are resource-limited, thereby helping to alleviate the pressures imposed by spatial and temporal variation in resource availability that is characteristic of simplified agricultural landscapes.”
The researchers weren’t as concerned about the growing creation of cannabis honey (we know you are – hang on) as much as how the dominance of cannabis would affect the bees. It turns out that besides being attractive to a diversity of bees, cannabis blossoms in the late summer when most other plants are finished and bees are looking for pollen. By extending their season, cannabis may actually be helping to strengthen the bees to fight off the diseases that have decimated their populations in recent years.
What about the cannabis honey?
Right. Most products labeled cannabis honey are actually infused with CBD or THC. While beekeepers claim the honey from bees specializing in cannabis flowers contains canniboids, it’s tough to differentiate between benefits that might come from them and the natural benefits of honey. The Israeli cannabis technology company PhytoPharma International is offering pure, non-infused, highly bioavailable cannabis-derived honey called Pure Bee. It’s available in two forms -- non-intoxicating CBD Honey and psychoactive THC Honey – and is said to take effect in 10 minutes, much faster than most edible cannabis products.
So, do bees really get a buzz from marijuana? Unfortunately, no. Bees lack cannabinoid receptors and merely pass them on to their honey. They buzz the buds merely for the fun and the exercise. That’s just another good reason to be kind to bees.