As a beekeeper working in the cannabis industry, I get some interesting questions: if bees pollinate the cannabis plant, do we get THC-laden honey? Can honeybees get high? I set out to investigate.
First, let’s go over how a bee makes honey. In the most simplistic terms, a bee gathers nectar and pollen from flowers to bring back to the hive. As the nectar is passed from bee to bee, the moisture content is reduced and so converted into honey. Meanwhile, pollen is mixed with nectar to make “bee bread” and is fed to baby bees as a protein source.
However, cannabis is a wind-pollinated plant. Producing nectar is an evolutionary trick to attract pollinators (such as our friendly bees), but it’s an energy-expensive task. Since cannabis doesn’t need pollinators, nectar production is more or less pointless. So the answer is no: we don’t have fields of bees pollinating hemp plants and producing THC honey.
“But I’ve seen THC honey at dispensaries before!” Right! Some examples include “CannaHoney” or Binske’s honey products. But they’re not a product purely made by the bees: they’re delicious wildflower honey infused with cannabis!
As far as bees getting high? There’s no debate: unlike mammals, insects have no endocannabinoid system, so they can’t access the THC bliss we enjoy.
Still, there’s a lot of research to be done on the apiary-cannabis concept. There is a possibility of convincing bees to pollinate cannabis in an enclosed setting with sugar water supplements or bees even converting THC syrup content into honey – many beekeepers love the idea and spend time researching how to combine their favorite natural products. Stay tuned, and let us know if you have any theories!
By Avery Brickles