Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill farmers around the nation have a new crop to choose from—hemp. Hemp is the extremely low-THC (less than .3%) crop that can be used to create paper, clothing, non-dairy protein, and CBD oil and extracts. With all the buzz about having a CBD option that is legal in all 50 states we must not lose sight of the environmental impact of hemp. Particularly, that it is a crop that bees love!
Why Honeybees Love Hemp
Did you know that the hemp plant is a flowering plant? It doesn’t flower all year-round but when it does the bees come from near and far. A small study performed in Colorado found that 23 of the 66 species of local bees can a buzzing. The study was concentrated and only lasted 5 days so this number could be much higher. Why this is particularly important is that hemp plants flower off-season from most flowering plants providing bees with a late-season source of pollen. This is particularly important for species that don’t hibernate, like honeybees.
Why Bees Are So Important
While worker bees are busy collection pollen for their queen, humans rely on bees as our primary pollinators. Pollination is the process of fertilizing flowers for the growth of seeds and fruit. Some flowers can self-pollinate but most rely on bees. This includes some of our favorite flowering produce, such as apples, pears, squash, and more. Wind, butterflies, and some insects can also pollinate, but no one does a better job than bees.
Without pollination food costs will skyrocket leaving humans to manually pollinate. With a global rise in bee colony collapse (worker bees abandoning their hive and queen) farming costs have already spiked 20% in some areas. By providing hives with a late-season crop of hemp we can further support hives that are thriving. It’s also a strategic way to support new hives.
Can You Grow Hemp At Home?
The 2018 Farm Bill allows for the industrial growth of hemp which requires licensing and registration, so you can’t just grow hemp for personal use. However, if you live in a state where hemp’s THC cousin is allowed for home growth you may be able to—following the proper protocols. This might include some type of registration or license and/or a restricted number of plants. Not to worry though as you can easily buy hemp-based CBD year-round from Stone & Leaf! Plus, if you are looking for another late-season flowering plant for local honey bees you have plenty of options.
What Else Is Hemp Good For?
Hemp products like paper, rope and clothing are biodegradable, compostable and recyclable. It is a crop that nourishes the soil, unlike some crops that deplete the soil. It is also a fast-growing crop, does an excellent job purifying the air, and with a strategic farming plan requires little water to grow. When it comes to CBD, hemp delivers all the benefits of marijuana—without the high!