📷 World Atlas
A recent study from Colorado State University reports that industrial hemp could help declining bee populations—a source of great ecological concern—because it’s a great source of pollen.
Isn’t hemp weed? Not this kind. While hemp is a strain of cannabis, the industrial variety is used to create paper, clothing, textiles and biodegradable plastics, among other goods. It’s also important to note that industrial hemp doesn’t produce nectar, meaning bees aren’t making honey from the plants.
It’s not just bees. Birds, bats, butterflies and hummingbirds are all pollinators, and they’re essential for the lifecycle of crops and other flowering plants. The Obama administration formed a Pollinator Health Task Force in 2014 to reverse the decline in bee population, among other initiatives. And the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that honeybee hives went from 6 million in the 1940s to about 2.5 million in 2017. Honeybees add $15 billion in yield to crops, according to the USDA.
The study’s authors note that as hemp crops become more widespread, pests will likewise become more common. Which is why the authors call for a plan that will protect pollinators, like bees, and manage pests that could damage the crops.
The bee colony living on top of the Notre Dame cathedral, part of a Paris initiative to protect its bee population, famously survived April’s devastating fire.