Cannabidiol (CBD) is revered for its potential health benefits. Now, scientists believe those benefits may extend to honeybees as well. Researchers from Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Poland found that hemp extracts protected bees exposed to neonicotinoids, the most common pesticides in the world.
The discovery has significant implications for conservationists. For the past 15 years, the world’s bee population has been declining. Honeybees have been hit particularly hard.
“Bees are dying because they are malnourished and weakened by the use of pesticides and then they start to suffer from various diseases… Bees cannot digest and absorb nutrients and then they simply die,” explained lead study author Aneta Ptaszyńska to The First News.
“There are reports that hemp extract protects human nerve cells; we decided to check whether it would be the same in the case of a bee.”
Ptaszyńska’s team studied 5,000 bees. They discovered that bees exposed to hemp extract as well as a neonicotinoid pesticide lived as long as bees that had no exposure to pesticides. More research is needed to solidify the results, but many are already heralding the finding as a potential step in rebuilding bee colonies.
Last year, researchers discovered a link between thriving hemp plants and a diverse bee population.  According to the study, hemp farms in central New York are supporting 16 different bee species. It’s possible the rapid surge in hemp production will have a direct impact on bees in the U.S. 
Ptaszyńska’s team has filed a patent for its extract process.
- Nathaniel RF, Poveda K, Grab H. The bee community of Cannabis sativa and corresponding effects of landscape composition. Environmental Entomology. 2020;49(1):197–202. [Impact Factor:1.586; Times Cited:1 (ResearchGate)]
Image source: MabelAmber, Needpix