We decided to explore the nature around us and how hemp influences other environments. What we found was pretty awesome!
Check out these articles we put together explaining how hemp is helping the bee community blossom and at the same time cutting back on all the chemicals currently used to maintain crops.
Just under the radar of public concerns is the fact that bees and pollinator insects are dying off in catastrophic numbers, and if we are unable to reverse this trend, we face a very different kind of future. Bees, in particular, appear to be acutely affected by neonicotinoid pesticides along with other fungicides and herbicides. They are losing their habitats.
At the same time, another crisis is converging. Fossil fuels. We need a new, natural, sustainable material to use for construction, packaging, fuel, clothing, and so much more. Fossil fuel extraction is a disaster that could be corrected with a massive global investment in hemp. This may well come to pass, as Congress recently legalized hemp farming in the U.S. for the first time since the last legal hemp fields were planted in 1957 in Wisconsin.
An interesting new scientific study connects these two burgeoning crises, showing the bees absolutely love hemp plants. Hemp crops apparently attract an array of different bee species, offering them a plentiful source of pollen for foraging.
“For the study, published this month in the journal Biomass and Bioenergy, researchers at Colorado State University set up 10 traps at industrial hemp fields in northern Colorado and collected bees over the course of five days during peak flowering season.
There are few other crops that pollinate in the region during the same timeframe, so the team wanted to know whether the non-psychoactive cannabis cousin of marijuana represented “a potentially valuable source of pollen for foraging bees,” which play a critical role in maintaining “sustainable productivity in natural and agricultural ecosystems.”
When the researchers looked at their collection, they found almost 2,000 bees from 23 different bee genera. Most of those (38 percent) were classic honeybees, but there were also specialized genera such as Melissodes bimaculata and Peponapis pruinosa that turned up in surprisingly “high proportions.”” [Source]
The scientists involved in this study did have one word of concern, noting that as hemp production expands, so will the temptation and practice of using, and overusing, chemical pesticides, which would turn this opportunity into another disaster.
Or does it. Let’s look a little deeper into the hemp plant and its natural background. It’s not as big of a threat to our bee population as we think.
Hemp is a plant that’s grown and harvested for its seeds, which offer natural benefits, and its stalk, which can be used to make paper, clothing and fiberboard. While most crops require the use of pesticides in order to survive and thrive, hemp, or Cannabis sativa, is considered rare because it doesn’t. Pesticides are substances that are designed to protect plants from a variety of pests, including weeds, diseases, and insects. Hemp, however, is naturally resistant to most pests, negating the need for any pesticides.
Not having to use pesticides is a good thing for both your health and the environment’s. While pesticides are effective in plant protection, they come with a number of unattractive side effects. Pesticides have the potential of causing health problems, such as skin and eye irritation, nervous system damage, reproductive problems, and cancer. While farmers and workers are at the greatest risk, pesticides can remain on crops and can, therefore, be transferred to consumers. Because particles of pesticides can be spread through the air via wind, they can pollute water supplies and contaminate nearby soil. Pesticide particles have also been linked to a decrease in pollinating bees. Lastly, the registration and purchasing of pesticides cost farmers more money, which in turn transfers the increase in cost to consumers.
Once hemp seed is planted, it requires little attention. It can be planted tightly together and quickly grows tall and thick. Because it grows thick and dense, it prevents the sun from reaching the soil, which keeps even the most aggressive weed pests at bay. In fact, because of its resistance to pests, hemp is often used as an organic pesticide option for other crops. Hemp can be planted beside other crops to help keep out unwanted diseases, insects and weeds. For example, it is commonly planted beside potatoes to deter potato blight fungus. In addition, farmers will plant rotations of hemp crops in-between seasons of their other crops to help improve the quality of the soil and to keep it clear from weeds and diseases.
As interest in organic crops grows, it wouldn’t be surprising if people turned to hemp more often for its nutritional benefits. Nor would it be audacious if the paper, wood and clothing industry all opt for hemp rather than trees and cotton.
Although we are a long way off from converting most of our products to hemp, what we do now can change the future. No chemicals and flourishing bee communities. Our earth could begin to heal itself again.
Partial source: walkingtimes