Bees and Cannabis
Do bees pollinate cannabis?
If so, do they get high from the nectar?
What is marijuana honey?
There is a lot of misleading information on the internet about honeybees and cannabis. Videos showing bees flocking to cannabis plants are untrue on some level, as you will realize after you read this blog post. The plants may have been sprayed with sugar water or some other bee-attracting enhancement for the purpose of making a video.
There is very little research available about how honeybees interact with the cannabis plant that contains THC levels sufficiently potent to be deemed medical or recreational use quality. Only one known scholarly article exists so far (Dalio, J.S., 2012). The study, which took place in India, indicated that bees see cannabis plants as a source of protein but usually only visit the male plants during a pollen shortage.
Honeybees (Apis mellifera) do pollinate the marijuana plant, but they don’t seem to enjoy the skunk-like scent that emanates from cannabis plants in the field. The plants also have no bright coloring to attract bees, and these are probably the main reasons bees don’t seem to like pollinating the plant if there are any better options. They tend to see it as a last resort which indicates they don’t like the flavor.
According to a study reported by the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, insects in general don’t have endocannabinoid systems, which are the receptors in human bodies that react to substances like THC and CBD. So, bees don’t get high when they pollinate cannabis.
Cannabis is mostly pollinated by the wind, and so it has not needed to develop colors and scents to attract pollinators like the honeybee, which is a creature with rich tastes in aromas and vivid colors. Since there is no “reward” for the bee to pollinate it, the favorite reward being flower nectar, bees are not usually interested. Sometimes a male cannabis plant will produce some pollen, which the bee may take home to the hive, but the bee is mainly seeking plants with nectar.
It seems some beekeepers encourage bees to pollinate the pot plant much like they would orange blossom, clove or wildflowers, so they can claim the honey they sell is authentic “marijuana honey” but it doesn’t usually happen this way. Bees are not fond of this source of pollen although if they are hungry and choices are low, they will go for it.
In places where cannabis honey is sold on the open market you will likely see marijuana honey on the shelves and the storekeeper may claim it was made from bee nectar collected from cannabis plants. It is more likely a case where the honey was infused with cannabinoids before it was packaged and sold. In Colorado, psychoactive THC honey is purchased in dispensaries while CBD honey is for sale in health food stores.
Little is known so far about the relationship between honeybees and cannabis. Much remains to be learned and no doubt more studies and research will be performed now that cannabis is legal in many states in the USA.
Do honeybees in your part of the world like cannabis more than they do in the USA? Please share any serious information you have on our Facebook page!