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C-Bee-D: New study shows cannabis extract has positive effect on honey bees



Bees: A swarm of bees on bright yellow honeycomb

A new study from Poland on honey bees has revealed cannabis extract has a positive immunostimulating effect through the proteolytic system and metabolic compounds of honey bee workers.

It’s a worrying fact that honeybee populations are in decline in the UK over the last 30 years. A lot of garden plants and agricultural crops need bees to transfer pollen from the flower’s anthers to the stigmas. This includes trees, soft fruits and also vegetables such as marrows, courgettes, runner and broad beans.

The reason for this is thought to be a combination of factors such as climate change, habitat loss, pesticide use and the decline in flowering resources.

New studies show that hemp could help bees to stay healthy and fight the effects of pesticides.

The study

The researchers divided the bees into groups. The control group was fed with a mixture of sugar and water-glycerine solution while one experimental group was given a mix of pure sugar syrup and cotton strips soaked in hemp extract. Another experimental group was given a mix of sugar water with hemp extract.

The bees were tested at two and seven days old

Bees: a black and white lined drawing of a bee


The hemp extracts caused an increase in the protein concentrates while reducing the protease activities regardless of how it was administered. A protease is an enzyme that increases the rate of protein breakdown into smaller polypeptides or single amino acids. They are essential for cell division, blood clotting, immune function and protein.

This activity was decreased in the group that absorbed hemp through the strips. This biomarker activity increased in the control group and those with the extract in syrup.

In the younger two day old bees, the glucose concentration was higher than those in the control group. The hemp extract caused a potential increase in urea concentrations in worker’s hemolymph, a fluid equivalent to blood in most invertebrates.

The hemp may positively influence the immune system of the worker bees while the method of absorption can be adapted to suit different health problems.

Researchers noted: “The results of the metabolic component were as follows: glucose and urea concentrations indicate that the extract will not adversely affect metabolic changes in the insect’s organism. Hemp extract improves the natural immunity of bees.”

Bees: A black and white line drawing of a bumble bee with wings stretched out

Previous un-bee-livable results

Another Polish study reported that hemp may help honeybees to survive pesticide poisoning.

Researchers from the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Poland formed a Bee-Research group led by Professor Aneta Ptaszyńska of the University’s Department of Immunobiology. They investigated if CBD could have a protective effect on the nerve cells of honeybees following similar tests on humans.

The study included 5000 bees for the research which examined if hemp could potentially be protective against the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides. These are the most widely used pesticides in the world that cause damage to insects by destroying the nervous system. It can also make bees more susceptible to parasites or viruses including the fungus Nosema apis that is one cause of colony collapse. It attacks the digestive system making it impossible for bees to absorb nutrients so they die.

The results showed that bees exposed to both neonicotinoid pesticides and hemp extract lived longer than those exposed to pesticide only. Further research is planned including tests on wild bees to confirm this but the results could mean a breakthrough for bee conversation.

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