What’s the Buzz on Bees and Cannabis?

April 17, 2024

bees and weed, like the cannabis plant pictured here, do not have a plant-pollinator relationship

Contents:

 

Approaching the end of April, we start getting asked the following question a lot: 

“Do bees pollinate weed? And if so, does that make the honey … funny?” 

We thought that in honor of 4/20 this year, we would provide a short and sweet blog to clear up any confusion around the topic of bees and weed! Let’s dive in. 

 

The Quick Answer About Bees and Weed

 

Technically, bees do not pollinate weed. Cannabis plants are pollinated by the wind, not by bees or other pollinators. Wind pollination is called anemophily. Plants that rely on wind for pollination don’t need to attract pollinators, so they produce huge amounts of small pollen grains, and usually don’t have any special colors, odors, or nectar. Bees and weed just aren’t very compatible, in an ecological relationship sense. 

However, bees have been seen on cannabis plants! Bees will forage on male hemp and cannabis plants for their pollen, which makes a great protein source. 

 

Bees and Weed: Do Bees Get High?

 

 

hemp cannabis plant

 

No, bees don’t get high. They lack the neuroreceptors that would allow them to experience the psychoactive elements present in cannabis. It is theorized that the cannabinoid receptor was lost in insects over the course of evolution. 

Interestingly, the cannabinoid receptor appears to be the only known neuroreceptor that is present in mammals and absent in insects. 

 

How Does Foraging on Cannabis Affect Honey?

 

HoneyDNA results showing cannabis

 

Cannabis does not produce nectar, so bees cannot make honey from it (nectar being the key ingredient in the production of honey). However, when bees forage on cannabis, traces of the pollen can make their way into the honey. 

The pollen traces can be detected by HoneyDNA analysis and have been found in samples from Best Bees hives! 

 

Possible Reasons Bees Visit Cannabis Plants

 

The scientific literature suggests that bees do not prefer cannabis pollen (it is intended for wind pollination, after all) but will resort to visiting male plants and collecting pollen from them during a floral dearth. A floral dearth is a time in which not many plants are blooming. 

Bees could be visiting cannabis plants for other reasons, as well. Cannabis plants are likely to host sap-sucking insects including aphids, leafhoppers, and some scale insects. These insects excrete a waste product known as honeydew — a sweet sticky substance, high in sugars and amino acids. Honey bees will collect and store the honeydew just like nectar. 

Another reason bees may visit cannabis plants is to collect resin for the purposes of making propolis (a malleable, waxy substance that is used to sanitize, reinforce, and weatherproof the hive). 

 

Recent Research Findings

 

 

flowering cannabis plant

 

A team of researchers from Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, Poland are working to find a way to help protect bees against the harmful effects of pesticides. Led by Professor Aneta Ptaszyńska, the team has discovered several unique methods to extend bees’ longevity, including probiotics, adaptogenic plant extracts, and cannabis extracts.

Research has shown neonicotinoids, pesticides derived from nicotine, to be particularly harmful to pollinators. Professor Ptaszyńska and her team discovered that specific cannabis extracts protected the bees in their experiment from some of the negative effects of neonicotinoids.

Additional research and testing is still needed, but it’s an exciting development in the quest to protect bee and pollinator health!

 

In Conclusion

 

We hope this blog has answered all of your burning questions about bees and cannabis!

 

FAQs

 

Q: Do bees get high? 

A: No. Bees do not have cannabinoid receptors, so they can not get high.

Q: Will eating honey containing trace amounts of cannabis pollen get me high? 

A: Nope! Traces of pollen won’t effect you in any way.

Q: Why do bees forage on cannabis plants? 

A: Bees will resort to foraging from cannabis plants for pollen during a floral dearth.

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