Global honeybee populations are in decline. Biosecurity New Zealand surveys (1) show that since 2015, beekeepers in New Zealand are reporting a 10% reduction of colonies annually. Beekeepers believe the majority of these losses were due to complications with the colonies’ queens. Other reported causes include starvation, wasps and toxic exposure. Bees play an integral role in pollination, so in a country that is so heavily reliant on the agricultural industry, these figures are unsustainable.
It has already been proven that hemp plants provide excellent nutrition to a diverse community of bees, with a study (2) published in Environmental Entomology reporting strong correlations between hemp plant height and bee species richness and abundance. Researchers from Uniwersytet Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej in Poland have taken this symbiotic relationship a step further, reporting that based on the results of a recently completed study (3), hemp oil could potentially save bees.
The study investigated whether hemp extract could protect bee nerve cells based on reports of a similar effect in humans. The results of the study suggest that the extract extends the life of bees that have been exposed to harmful pesticides, with the tested insects living comparatively as long as insects that had no record of toxic exposure. The research was completed on 5000 caged bees; however, the research team is now planning a further study on bees living in apiaries.