Scientists have discovered 16 different species of bees that gather pollen from cannabis plants. A team of researchers went out into weed fields on farms in the state of New York armed with bug-catching nets.
They found huge numbers of bees thriving around weed plants, which are a ‘newly introduced and rapidly expanding crop in the American agricultural landscape’. The bees are unlikely to get too buzzing when romping around the weed fields because the plants are actually hemp crops and therefore have lower levels of THC – the active chemical which gets you high.
Rather than being rolled into massive joints and blazed in style of Bob Marley, material harvested from the hemp crops is used to produce fibre, grains and cannabidiol (CBD) – a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid produced by female hemp plants that is used to treat severe forms of epilepsy and also as a herbal supplement.
A report on the canna-bees suggested weed fields could help to sustain bees during seasons where they are ‘resource-limited’ and can’t find enough pollen. ‘The recent federal legalization and agricultural expansion of industrial hemp, Cannabis sativa, may influence the spatial and temporal distribution of pollen resources for bee communities in the United States. 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.’
It’s illegal to grow weed at home in New York, but hemp can be commercially grown. Obviously, farmers need to keep an eye on THC levels in their crop because they risk arrest if their ganja turns out to be psychoactive. But they don’t need to worry about harming bees. ‘The presence of cannabinoids, particularly tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), in hemp pollen is not likely to have an impact on bee development due to the loss of cannabinoid receptors in insects,’ the authors added. This means bees can’t get stoned because they lack the receptors found in herbalist humans.