A new study has found that bees really love hemp, and that hemp could help famers grow other cash crops. The study was led by researchers at Cornell University and recently published in Environmental Entomology. It found that bees are strongly attracted to to hemp crops due to the amount of pollen that’s available in them.
As the study went on, more and more bees visited the hemp plots, with many of them flocking to taller hemp plants. The researchers found that 16 be subspecies were attracted to the hemp crops, and again, they hypothesize that it’s due to the pollen, but what made the all flock to hemp pollen remains unknown.
“The rapid expansion of hemp production in the United States… may have significant implications for agroecosystem-wide pollination dynamics,” the study’s authors concluded. “As a late-season crop flowering during a period of seasonal floral dearth, hemp may have a particularly strong potential to enhance pollinator populations and subsequent pollination services for crops in the following year by filling gaps in late-season resource scarcity.”
This isn’t the only study of it’s kind, a Colorado study published earlier this year that discovered the same thing.
Bees are one of the most important — if not the most important — managed pollinators in US agriculture, spreading one flower’s male sex cells to corresponding female flowers, facilitating plant reproduction. The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization estimated that, worldwide, pollinators are worth anywhere from $235 and $577 billion for their role in global crop production, with bees responsible for $20 billion of that estimation in just the US alone.
For instance, the entire almond industry is utterly dependent on bees for pollination, but other crops such as blueberries and watermelons are heavily reliant on bees, too. If you’ve noticed rising fruit prices at your local grocery store during the winter months, that’s partially because bee populations fell during the latter part of the year, with some dramatic drops occurring in the past several years due to pesticide use and mite infestations of managed hives. (source)
There is literally nothing bad about planting hemp. In fact, all it seems to do is nothing but good!