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Cannabis Extract Boosts the Immune Systems of Honeybees

Written by Antonio DeRose

We know cannabis is full of valuable cannabinoids and terpenes. Many of which have been linked to producing positive effects on the human immune system. According to new research, scientists have now figured out that cannabis can boost the immune systems of honeybees, and in more ways than one. [1]

The purpose of the research was to determine if CBD via a hemp extract could increase the  survival rates of honeybees by strengthening their immune system. This is an important purpose considering the global importance of honeybees and their worldwide endangerment. The study started with one-day-old worker bees that were divided into three groups; the control group who was not fed hemp extract, the experimental group that was exposed to hemp extract on a cotton soaked strip, and a third experimental group that was fed hemp extract using a sugar syrup solution by syringe.

To determine the effects of the hemp extract on the bee’s immune systems, researchers measured and analyzed biochemical indicators within the proteolytic system, certain biomarkers, and metabolic factors. The proteolytic system fights pathogens and parasites, and activity in the proteolytic system can be measured by the number of proteases, protease inhibitors, and total protein concentrations. “The activities of protease inhibitors in the extract-fed bees were significantly higher than in the control group and the group that received the extract on the strips. This proves the activation of proteolytic reactions, thus strengthening the bee’s organism, which makes it better protected against pathogens.” [1]

At the same time, the bees who were exposed to the hemp extract on the strip had their own positive immunostimulating effect. Exposure of the hemp extract to the bee’s body surface  provided a protective external barrier that helped seal it off. This made it more difficult for pathogens to enter the body. The measurements of biomarkers and metabolism also both indicated improved immune response.

This study shows that cannabis extracts can be beneficial for improving their immune system in two major ways. Bees that are fed a hemp syrup extract strengthen their immune systems internally after it is digested and absorbed. Bees that have their bodies exposed to a hemp extract strip strengthen their immune systems externally, by the formation of a protective barrier on the bee’s body surface that prevents pathogens from entering the body.

Overall, increasing immunity and decreasing penetration of pathogens can help bees and beekeepers. By using one, or a combination of both of these methods, cannabis extracts may play an integral role in the future of helping the dwindling honeybee population around the world.



1- W Skowronek,P.; et al., Cannabis Extract Has a Positive–Immunostimulating Effect through Proteolytic System and Metabolic Compounds of Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) Workers. Animals 2021, 11, 2190. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11082190 Times Cited: 1 Journal Impact Factor: 2.752

About the author

Antonio DeRose