What Happens When Scientists Feed Cannabinoids to Bees?

by | Jan 14, 2020

Written by Zoe Biehl

What happens when bees are encouraged to feast on cannabis? The result is a highly bioavailable cannabis honey that not only helps alleviate ailments but also benefits the bee population.

PhytoPharma International, an Israeli cannabis technology company, teamed up with Professor Dedi Meiri — head of the Cancer and Cannabinoid Research Lab at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology — to find out whether it is possible for bees to cultivate medicinal honey from cannabis.

After extensive research, the team successfully discovered a method that allows bees to naturally express active cannabinoids in their honey, providing a powerfully medicinal edible that is not psychoactive at all.

“We are enhancing nature, by nature,” Avner Ben Aharon, CEO of Phytopharma International, said in an interview with Forbes. “We combined the healing powers of cannabis with the amazing delivery capability of honey.”

How is Cannabis Honey Produced?

PhytoPharma’s cannabis honey — which has been dubbed CannaBeez — is created entirely by bees alone. It is not infused with cannabis the way other edibles are, the bees are the extraction process, and the honey produced by the bees contains medicinal cannabinoids.

Essentially, a colony of bees is fed a full spectrum of cannabinoids. Bees do not have an endocannabinoid system the way mammals do, so they are not affected by the cannabis at all. Instead, the nutrients are naturally passed through to the honey that they produce.

The result is honey that contains an ultra-low concentration of active cannabidiols, at less than 0.3%. This concentration is up to 10,000 times lower than other conventional cannabis treatment methods.

PhytoPharma’s unique methods, including their bee feeding composition, feeding process, and final product, have been collectively IP protected.

How Effective is Cannabis Honey?

Despite having such a tiny fraction of medicinal cannabis properties within it, the honey is highly bioavailable and still provides patients with a powerful remedy.

To date, the Cannabeez cannabis honey has no recognized psychoactive effects, making it ideal for medical cannabis patients that need to go about their normal day-to-day routine without feeling high.

While most cannabis-infused edibles can take over an hour to kick in, Cannabeez honey has a rapid onset of only 5 to 10 minutes before effects are felt. For patient populations such as those with chronic pain, this fast activation can be a huge benefit.

PhytoPharma conducted a study on the efficacy of their cannabis honey and discovered that the honey was actually more effective than medical patients’ usual prescribed cannabis.

Patients who have fibromyalgia reported significantly lower pain levels after consuming the Cannabeez honey, and patients with PTSD-induced insomnia found it much easier to have a good night’s sleep, as illustrated in the graphs below.


Source: PhytoPharma International

Environmental Benefits

Honeybees play a vital role in our world’s ecosystem, and they’ve been in trouble over the last few decades. Bee populations have been dramatically dropping globally. In the US alone, around 25% of the more than 4,000 different bee species are at risk of going extinct.

Considering bees are responsible for pollinating 90% of all flowering plants, including a majority of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts we eat, it is crucial that honey bees continue to survive and thrive.

As it turns out, cannabis may wind up helping honeybees just as much as it helps humans.

PhytoPharma discovered during their research process that their methods of feeding bee colonies, a composition that includes cannabis, led to a successful proliferation of the bee population. Usually, most domesticated bee colonies are simply fed sugar syrup in the honey industry. PhytoPharma’s feeding composition, however, seems to provide superior nutrition to their colony of honeybees.

Moreover, wild bees are also benefiting as more crops of cannabis and hemp get planted in the US. A researcher from Colorado State University found 23 different species of bees had visited an industrial hemp farm in northern Colorado between late July and late September. They were found to be using the hemp plants as a much-needed source of pollen in the late summer months when most crops have already completed blooming. Cannabis and hemp plants, therefore, provide a valuable nutritional resource for foraging bee populations in a time when pollen sources are scarce.

Hopefully, as the cannabis and hemp industries continue to bloom, the symbiotic relationship these crops have with bees will also flourish, giving a glimmer of hope not only to the medical patients that rely on cannabis to function but also to our planet’s ecological future.