We've caught up with Nicolas Trainerbees, a French beekeeper who has made a name for himself by training his bees to feed on cannabis plants! Read on to find out how he manages to pull off this remarkable feat...
Hi Nicholas! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I love to learn from animals and insects, and I have done ever since I was young. For me, trying to make a symbiosis between myself and the animal or insect I study is my first priority, when I want to know more about them. I have studied many fish, insects and plants – because nature is so beautiful!
What can you tell us about how you train your bees? How did you get started, what made you try it?
Some of my friend (who are weed smokers) asked me back in 2007 if it's possible to make a real cannahoney. I said at first it's impossible, because resin is not sugar. It was only after many, many tries (and I first had to train my bees to make honey from fruits and not flowers), but by six years later I had learned how to train them to feed on cannabis plants.
Is it difficult to train the bees? How successful are you overall?
For sure it's not natural for bees to go to the cannabis plant. Each day two thousand bees are born, these bees need to be trained as soon as they leave the hive – and bees have a short life of less than two months! Each day, it's two hours of work to train them, just to harvest 3 kg of cannahoney at the end of it!
Wow. So we understand that cannabis plants don't actually produce nectar. What exactly are the bees feeding on, and what do they use it for?
The bees are trained to harvest the resin of the cannabis plant to make propolis. Propolis is a special gum made by bees from tree and plant resins – they use it everywhere in the hive!
According to several studies, bees don't have an endocannabinoid system – but could they benefit from the terpenes and other compounds that cannabis produces?
Maybe, because they chew the resin when they harvest it! Maybe it's also why we found the terpene ocimene in high levels in the cannahoney...
So you've tested your honey to make sure it has THC? What are the results?
Yes, I've done some lab tests of cannahoney – the result was good. At the lower end, 0.3%, and at the higher end 1%. Now, I know that if I harvest the honey when it's mature, some of the THCA gets decarbed due to the heat of hive during the three-week period that bees need to dry honey!
Fascinating! So are you aware of medicinal cannabis patients that use your honey? If so, do they report good results?
Some medical patients have tried it, but just for a short period. Some anxiety sufferers have said they felt better after using it. It's interesting – many other insects can actually be trained to harvest resin. I also work with slugs and ants! But I have no financial support, and I'm not sponsored, so I work slowly in my research.
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