What’s the Buzz? Honey Bees Respond Positively to CBD As Importance of Antioxidents in All Life Systems Becomes Apparent
Bees are a crucial pollination agent and are in danger the whole world over. A study by Polish researchers has shown honey bees respond positively to CBD, but the implications go further than the health of our pollinators. It suggests that cannabis could be beneficial to antioxident systems in other species too.
Patrycja Skowronek and Aneta Strachecka, Department of Invertebrate Ecophysiology and Experimental Biology, University of Life Sciences in Lublin, Poland
The study was conducted by Patrycja Skowronek and Aneta Strachecka of the Department of Invertebrate Ecophysiology and Experimental Biology, University of Life Sciences in Lublin, Poland and published by MDPI on 27 January 2023.
The antioxidant system is a very important element of the immunity of living organisms. It is responsible for scavenging free radicals, which can cause the body to age faster, create inflammatory processes, and mediate in creating diseases and cancers. The aim of the study was to evaluate the effect of a commercial hemp extract in the form of CBD oil on the activity of the antioxident system and the basic ion concentrations important in cellular processes in honey bees (Apis mellifera).
This is an edited extract of the study published by Skowronek and Aneta Strachecka.
“Nowadays, the scientific world has been dealing with the problems of the decrease in the biodiversity of flora and fauna due to global environmental changes. Disruptions in the populations of living organisms cause wide-ranging changes that will affect all organisms on this planet.
Among the frequently mentioned organisms, the populations of which are shrinking, are insects. As the most diverse group of organisms, it plays an important role in agriculture, from the decomposition of organic matter to pollination.
The beneficial insects that suffer from these negative effects are bees.
As pollinators, bees are responsible for regulating the biodiversity of the natural environment. Their work includes the pollination of entomophilic plants, which include about 70% of plants that are part of the human diet and livestock and pets. In recent years, with the increase in the ecological crisis and problems with food production, it is extremely important to maintain the health and good condition of the populations of these insects. Due to the changing environment as a result of climate change, anthropopressure, and chemization, the natural resistance of bees decreases, and thus they are more susceptible to infections with parasites and pathogens (i.e., nosematosis, varroosis). All of these factors, acting together or separately, make a significant contribution to reducing the work efficiency and shortening the life of pollinators. The dying of colonies also causes far-reaching economic losses in the beekeeping, agricultural, and food industries. In response to this crisis caused by the general weakening of the population of bee colonies, various supplements have been tested to both stimulate the health potential and meet a number of requirements (i.e., non-toxicity). Due to the keeping of honey bees in breeding farms from which bee products are obtained, the substances administered to the hive should be safe in the event that residues of these stimulants pass into food products (e.g., honey).
In the experiment, we tested the effect of 30% CBD oil on the activity of the antioxidant system (superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase, glutathione), the level of total antioxidant capacity, and the concentrations of ions (calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus) in honeybee workers in the hive test.
For this purpose, we prepared hives containing all stages of the development of honey bees and started the experiment by adding 200 marked, one-day old bees to each colony (intended for hemolymph collection). In the test, we created three groups (two colonies per group): (1) Experimental with CBD oil mixed with sugar syrup (CSy); (2) experimental with CBD oil on textile strips (CSt); and (3) control with pure sugar syrup only (C).
Every week, we collected hemolymph from the marked bees. In the experiment, all antioxidant enzyme activities were higher for the experimental groups CSy and CSt compared to group C. The highest concentrations/levels were obtained for the CSy group. Concentrations of calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus ions were also higher for the experimental groups compared to the C group (the highest concentration for the CSy group).
We conclude that CBD oil positively contributes to stimulating the antioxidant system of honeybees.
We believe that a good supplementation can be the addition of hemp extract in the form of CBD oil to the diet of bees, which has many documented potentially health-promoting properties. In the latest research, more and more scientists are showing the positive effects of cannabis on animal organisms.
Our previous studies have shown that CBD oil/hemp extracts added to the diet of bees prolonged the life of insects and contributed to a positive stimulation of the immune system by stimulating the activity of the proteolytic system, increasing the enzymatic concentrations (ALT, AST, ALP), and non-enzymatic biomarkers (e.g., glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides, calcium, and magnesium ions) tested from the hive test.
Additionally, in previous studies, we showed that supplementation with hemp extract increased the activity of the antioxidant system in the cage experiment (all enzymes) and prolonged the life of bees in cage experiments.
Therefore, we assumed that in the case of a beekeeping experiment, we will obtain results confirming the positive effect of CBD oil obtained in the case of previous publications using a hemp extract. In addition, the results obtained in this publication will complement the information on CBD supplementation from previous studies on the proteolytic system.