Hemp Helps Bees Recover from Effects of Pesticide
A group of scientists at Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin, Poland have made a fine discovery that may help bees, our precious pollinators, to live longer and more productive lives.
According to Aneta Ptaszyńska, the team lead who is also a professor at the university, hemp extract is known to protect human nerve cells, so they decided to study whether it might have the same effect on bees.
They discovered that the non-intoxicating cannabis crop may help bees to overcome the devastating toxic effects from pesticides that are commonly used in agriculture to protect crops.
The team carried out research on 5,000 bees that lived in special testing boxes. They discovered that the crop kept them alive longer in the presence of pesticides than those bees not subjected to hemp.
This 1:18-minute video by Boundless Boomer tells the story of Cornell University's findings on bees and hemp:
Professor Ptaszyńska believes we now know that hemp extract extends the life of bees that were exposed to pesticides. The insects that had been exposed to poisonous substances lived as long as those that had never had any such contact.
She said that bees die due to malnutrition and because of weakening by the use of pesticides. This causes them to suffer from various diseases, including nosemosis. This attacks the digestive system, causes weakness and cachexia (muscle loss). Unable to digest or absorb nutrients, they die.
Over the next year, the team plans to expand its research to include bees living in other types of apiaries. They have filed for a patent and hope to bring a solution to the market if their future tests uphold similar results to these initial findings.
This discovery could be a major breakthrough in global bee conservation, helping to save the bees and the ecosystems they contribute to at the same time.
Earlier this year, researchers at Cornell University discovered that bees are attracted to hemp plants, and that the taller the plants, the better for enticing a wider variety of bees. Plants that are over 2 meters (6 ft) high were found to attract nearly 17 times the number of bees than their shorter neighbors drew. As many as 16 varieties of bees were found swarming the crop. These researchers believe cannabis can help save the bees.
Cannabis and hemp are two versions of the same plant. Although they look alike, they have very different effects. The concentration of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is what accounts for the difference. This is the intoxicating compound found in the cannabis plant. In hemp plants, THC concentration is usually 0.3 percent or less, which is non-intoxicating. The THC in cannabis plants is more than 0.3 percent.
Both these findings come at a good time for the bees. These insects have suffered due to widespread agricultural development that often replaces natural habitat and native crops with others that make more money.
Researchers point out that although hemp does not have an enticing aroma, like other bee magnet flowers do, but it produces an abundance of pollen at a time when there is a shortage of it elsewhere. By playing a vital role in keeping bee colonies alive, this plant also helps preserve the parts of the food chain that require their attention.
According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, bee pollination plays a pivotal part in US agriculture. It is responsible for US$20 million of domestic crop production, and between $235 billion to $577 billion around the world.
Hemp cultivators should take into consideration how they can support bees when planning pesticide management.
Hemp is a late-season crop of great value to bees, flowering during a period of seasonal floral dearth. It may have strong potential to enhance pollinator populations by filling in some gaps in late-season resource scarcity. This helps agricultural industries that depend on bees for pollination.
You can read more about the Polish researchers and their hemp tests here.
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