A Polish study has found hemp extract fed to bees not only gave the insects a needed antioxidant boost, but also slowed down the ageing process.
For such an important insect that pollinates many of the world’s crops, we give bees a pretty hard time. There have been major declines in bee populations due to increased susceptibility to parasites, the widespread use of pesticides and the impacts of climate change.
Perhaps we can give bees a helping hand with hemp.
Researchers from the Department of Invertebrate Ecophysiology and Experimental Biology, University of Life Sciences in Lublin investigated the effects of hemp extract on the activity of the antioxidant system in the hemolymph of adult honey bees (Apis mellifera). Hemolymph is the fluid equivalent to blood found in most invertebrates.
The bees were divided into three groups – one group was fed using pure sugar syrup with cotton strips soaked with hemp extract, another fed with a mixture of sugar syrup with hemp extract delivered via syringe, and a control group fed with a mixture of sugar and a water–glycerine solution.
As well as finding the highest antioxidant activities in the group supplemented with cannabis via syringe, it also increased their lifespan to 52 days. For the group feeding off the cotton strips soaked with sugar syrup and hemp strips, lifespan was 49 days. For the control group fed only sugar syrup, it was just 35 days.
“Hemp extract, thanks to its antioxidant properties, increased the activities of key antioxidant enzymes that protect the bee’s organisms against free radicals and thus delay the aging processes,” state the researchers. “…we believe that hemp extract can in the future contribute to the improvement of the natural immunity of honey bees and help them with the fight against environmental pollution and the increase of oxidative stress.”
The findings have been published in the journal Antioxidants.
Bees love hemp and previous studies have found the plant has the potential to provide a critical nutritional resource during periods when other food sources may be scarce. But not all hemp grown is useful to bees – crops grown for CBD aren’t beneficial as it’s the flowers that are harvested. The best hemp crops for these important pollinators are those cultivated for seed and fiber.