Hemp and Honey Bees
Hemp and Honey Bees: A Late Summer Love Affair.
Have you ever had the opportunity to observe a honey bee as it bounces from flower to flower collecting sweet nectar? There’s something heartwarming and quite magical about our striped fuzzy friends. They are delightful and fascinating little creatures....and they happen to love hemp!
These industrious little workers produce six hive products: honey, pollen, royal jelly, beeswax, propolis and venom, which are all harvested and used by humans for various purposes. Honey of course, is the most well known hive product, but their economic importance to agriculture is incalculable. Bees are responsible for pollinating about one sixth of the flowering plant species around the world and approximately 400 different agricultural types of plants which are crucial for food production. Simply put, no bees, no food.
Photo Credit: Arthur Gschwind
It's no big secret that while bees play a vital role in our environment, their populations have been declining due to several factors including global warming, habitat destruction and the use of pesticides.
A recent study from Colorado State University suggests that hemp could help declining bee populations by providing a protein rich nutrional resource in late summer, which is significant because it’s a time when most pollinator-friendly crops are at the end of their seasons.
Ironically enough, hemp does not rely on the honey bee for pollination as it is a wind pollinating plant.
While hemp does not produce nectar, it does produce plentiful pollen, providing sustained nutritional options for bees late in the season when male hemp plants come to flower.
Size seems to matter as well: honey bees like big buds and they cannot lie.....the taller the plant the greater the number of bees that flock to it! Plants measuring at least 6 feet in height attract nearly 17 times the number of bees as their shorter neighbors and they also attract a wider diversity of bee species.
The study also showed that as time went by, more and more bees visited the hemp fields, indicating that the bees were letting their hives know where to go for the ultimate all you can eat buffet.
In a country where so much of the agricultural acreage is dedicated to crops covered in bee harming pesticides, it’s nice to know that in Oregon all hemp crops must be by law grown organically, thus providing an oasis for our little pollinating friends!
Photo Credit: Philip Petelski
Bee good. Buy Oregon hemp. Sustainable, organic and good for the bees!