Cannabis crops are proving beneficial to declining bee populations, scientists have discovered.
Researchers from New York state have found very large numbers of 16 different species of bee thriving among the recently-planted crops.
Global bee populations have been in serious decline over the past 20 years, with the finger of blame pointing largely towards modern farming practices – particularly the use of powerful insecticides.
However, marijuana crops require no chemicals as they are unaffected by pests.
This, scientists believe, may be crucial in reversing the bee’s descent towards the endangered list.
“Industrial hemp, Cannabis sativa (Cannabaceae), is a newly introduced and rapidly expanding crop in the American agricultural landscape,” began the report’s paper submitted to Oxford University Press.
“As an exclusively wind-pollinated crop, hemp lacks nectar but produces an abundance of pollen during a period of floral dearth in agricultural landscapes.
“These pollen resources are attractive to a range of bee species but the diversity of floral visitors and their use of hemp across a range of agricultural contexts remains unclear.
“Because of its temporally unique flowering phenology, hemp has the potential to provide a critical nutritional resource to a diverse community of bees during a period of floral scarcity and thereby may help to sustain agroecosystem-wide pollination services for other crops in the landscape. As cultivation of hemp increases, growers, land managers, and policy makers should consider its value in supporting bee communities and take its attractiveness to bees into account when developing pest management strategies.”