Science Digest – Can hemp cultivation save the bees AND endangered crops?

    Industrial hemp crops are rapidly expanding in the American farming landscape. Because hemp is pollinated exclusively by wind, it lacks nectar. Still, it produces an abundance of pollen during a period of floral scarcity in agricultural landscapes. These pollen resources are attractive to a range of bee species. 

    By examining the bees visiting hemp flowers on farms in New York, scientists identified all bee visitors to the species level. They found that hemp supported 16 different bee species. 

    Landscape simplification negatively impacted the abundance of bees visiting hemp flowers but did not affect the species richness of the community. Hemp plots with taller varieties attracted a broader diversity of bee species and in higher numbers. 

    It appears that hemp has the potential to provide a critical nutritional source to bees during a period of floral scarcity, which may help to sustain pollination for other crops nearby. 

    The study by the Department of Entomology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY recommends that those involved in hemp farming take into account its value in supporting bee communities when developing pest management strategies.

    During Ardoa Organics’ agricultural projects in 2018 and 2019 our organic crops supported a wide range of bee species. Since then we have engaged with the British Bee Association to explore ways in which we can support those helping to strengthen the world’s bee populations. We do not cultivate in the UK but we can support the effort to build populations of the British bee through financial support and helping raise awareness of just how vital the bees are for the world.



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