Chicken soup is made by dragging a dead chicken through a pot of boiling water. At least, that’s what my father concluded after eating a particularly watered-down version. From what I understand, cannabis honey results from a similar process. After flying over a cannabis plant, honey bees make cannabis honey, right? Close encounters of the THC kind.
Cannabis honey seems to be a hot topic these days. But seriously, does such a thing even exist? In fact, cannabis is a wind-pollinated plant. Most wind-pollinated species do not produce nectar simply because they don’t need to. Nectar production is an energy-expensive adaptation that lures pollinators, but if you don’t need pollinators, nectar production is pointless.
The power of a trade name
However, honey bees can collect pollen from cannabis, and some of that pollen can easily find its way into a batch of honey. I suppose someone could conclude that honey containing cannabis pollen is cannabis honey. Following that philosophy, honey containing corn pollen could be called corn honey.
Many people call their marijuana products cannahoney, but CannaHoney is a US registered trademark. Much to the company’s credit, they describe their product like this, “CannaHoney is all-natural, unprocessed wildflower honey made by honey bees who have collected nectar from various “wild” flowers.” How can you argue with that?
The resin collectors
Claims by others are a little more difficult to swallow. The most famous proponent lives in France and claims to have trained his bees to “collect the psychoactive resin from pot plants” and he shows a video of honey bees madly collecting something from a cannabis flower. (Sorry, the article “Marijuana Laced-Honey: The Bees Don’t Catch a Buzz, but Can You?” is not linked here.)
My questions are twofold. First, why does he think the bees are collecting resin and not pollen? And second, even if they are collecting resin, why does he think they will put it in honey? Bees use resin to make propolis, not honey. In any case, the FDA defines honey as being made from the nectar of flowers, not the resin.
What does “all-natural” really mean?
Every now and again someone writes to me wanting to know the proper pheromone to use for attracting honey bees to pot plants. Now, if this is how they get all those frantic workers to poke at a pot flower, no wonder the videos are so compelling. Worse, the proponents of cannabis honey call it an “all-natural” product. I fail to see which part of training bees or luring them with pheromone is all-natural.
In truth, I have nothing against marijuana. In fact, I don’t believe the government has any business regulating the ownership of plants. On the other hand, I don’t believe in forcing unnatural processes. If honey bees are not interested in your stupid pot plants, then leave them alone. Enough already.
Honey Bee Suite
………………. “Close encounters of the THC kind”…………. Just BRILLIANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(…..and I still love that movie!)
Blush, blush. Thanks, Peter!
Well, my two hives were right next to my pot plants (this is legal where I live) and I never saw a bee go near them. If you’ve ever seen the amount of pollen a male plant produces, and how effectively it drifts, you would know that pollinators are superfluous. I didn’t attempt to train my bees, however.
Yes! Exactly! In fact, in wind-pollinated plants the pollen is especially fine-grained and lightweight so it can float long distances on air currents. Thank you for writing. And I’m so glad to hear you have untrained bees! Free to be.
My males have bees all over them… I let em take it. Enjoy little bee friends, enjoy.
I read something somewhere that they got the bees to look like they were collection by spraying sugar water on the plants??!!
I have never heard of “canabis honey” in reference to actual honey. In the medicinal marijuana world, “canabis honey” is one of the various names of extracted essential oils from marijuana plants. More properly it’s called canabis oil, of course, but pot heads tend to prefer pet names for things. It looks like an amber colored viscous fluids which can be dried to a thin pliable plastic amber clear sheet. They use it mostly in an updraft machine designed for delivering asthma medications through inhalation. They make all kinds of unsubstantiated medical claims about this method of getting intoxicated on THC. Sometimes they’re right.
The essential oil extraction involves contraptions and volatile chemicals that would intimidate most true heart bee keepers.
I’m with Chris on this one — exactly MY experience!!
No such thing!
So if i sprayed sugar water on dog poo would i get “poohoney”?
Precisely. A whole new market will open up to you.
Having done absolutely no research, my guess is someone decided it would be a clever marketing ploy to claim their product was cannabis honey, so as to jump to the top of the queue (there is one for you Rusty!) of the medicinal cannabis bandwagon. Snake oil reinvented!
I guess the unscrupulous honey producer could label/claim their product to be this or that to command a higher market price and therefore higher profit margin, it happens here with Manuka honey. The honest ones have their product tested and volumes of the claimed ingredients are printed on the labels.
Even if they collected anything be it resin or pollen from the plant, it would still be NON-PSYCHOACTIVE. The reason is that raw cannabis contains THC-A, not THC. In order for you to get the psychoactive effects, it needs to be heated, or in Canna-speak, decarboxylated. So canna honey made by bees??? Not possible. Canna honey made by adding decarbed canna oil….yes, mighty good stuff. The more you know ??
Thanks for the clarification, Tricia.
I’ve been told my Spring honey from 2016, South SF Bay Area, has the scent and slight flavor of licorice, any idea where this could be coming from? I’ve heard suggestions of Anise Hyssop or Sassafras, but I don’t think we have those plants in our area.
I’m trying to remember what I’ve heard about licorice scent. (I just have to interrupt myself here. I’m sitting in the living room and all of a sudden, I can see bees! Hundreds! Swooping and darting all over the place. Spring must be coming, even though the thermometer says 52. List: make pollen patties.)
Although I don’t expect you have much sassafras, people often plant anise hyssop in their gardens, and it definitely has a licorice scent and flavor. Basil can be a bit that way, and chervil, I think. If you have a microscope, you can take a photo of the pollen. Then instead of just a scent and flavor you can’t identify, you also have pollen grains you can’t identify. At lease, that’s how I end up. Sorry I can’t be of more help.
Does anyone else out there have an idea about this?
Anise is starting to bloom all around the Bay Area.
How would you feed honey from a broken frame back to the bees? I have a dead hive (looks disease free) with a frame of honey but the top bar broke off so the honey frame is in two pieces now. Can I just lay them on top of the inner cover or right over the frames of another hive?
That’s how I do it. I lay it on it’s side right on top of the bars and put a shim or shallow around it so there is room. If it’s real drippy, I put it on an inner cover. If it’s so drippy that you think the bees will get stuck in it, then pour granulated sugar on the inner cover first, just to soak it up.
I’m not sure what if anything this means, but as the weather slowly warms up in the PNW, and my bee activity gradually increases, I’ve been observing them returning to the hive with their pollen baskets full. Most make graceful landings on the landing board, but every so often one will crash. I’ve seen some end up on their backs and others land just before falling on to the ground.
Once on the ground they seem unable to resume flight. I often take a small stick and give them a free elevator ride back to the landing board, from where they will normally walk into the hive. I don’t see any issues such as deformed wing etc.
Is the problem they are simply overloaded?
Thank you Rusty.
Probably overloaded. We all make errors in judgement, right?
It appears that this is becoming a “thing” again. I have looked into this pretty thoroughly and hope that this article will be helpful to others. http://www.beeculture.com/bees-and-cannabis/
Quality Services International (QSI) is the worldwide leading honey lab located in Germany with more than 60 years of experience in honey.
We can confirm that Cannabis does not produce nectar. Additionally, we analyzed two samples that we bought online and that were supposed to contain THC. We only detected THC in low ppb amounts (meaning µg/kg) which is far below what has been advertised on the jar. Furthermore, very high HMF values (indicator for impact of heat on honey) point to either inappropriate treatment, storage conditions or possibly heavy processing. Pollen analysis revealed no cannabis pollen at all.
In our view, there is no such thing as Cannabis honey produced naturally by honey bees.
Thank you so much for posting this! I’m so glad to have laboratory results to confirm my suspicions.
For those of you unfamiliar, HMF (hydroxymethylfurfural) is a substance that results from the breakdown of fructose, one of the major sugars in honey. It can form slowly over time, but the production is greatly accelerated by heat. As Lauren points out, very high HMF measurements usually indicate the honey has been heated, cooked, or poorly stored.
I find it fascinating that no Cannabis pollen was found in the samples. Since Cannabis pollen is very light and easily floats on air currents, this finding seems to indicate that there were no Cannabis plants near the source of the honey.
Good work, Lauren, and thank you again.
I bought two small jars from Mr. Trainerbees and had them analyzed..one jar contained honey which had been destroyed by high temperature, herbicides, insecticides, vegetable oil (broken down from high heat), flakes of weed, and water.. not a trace of THC..second jar had similar contents only the vegetable oil had been replaced by coconut oil. I bought a “jug” next, for 350.00. This is where it got interesting. On the side of the jug was an expiration stamp “product of India, Argentina, Ukraine..best by 11/18/18. Considering honey is usually stamped for 12 months shelf life, this was probably purchased after I placed the order.. (why would a beekeeper buy honey?) The analysis revealed extremely high herbicide content, vegetable oil, and flakes of something that was something other than weed. The first small jar produced a barely noticeable tingling for about 20 minutes. The second jar and the jug produced no effect whatsoever. I emailed Mr. Trainerbees and attached all of my findings, telling him, “I don’t want my money back. I’ve spent five times what I’ve paid you to have everything I purchased from you analyzed. I don’t want an answer from you. I don’t need any input from you at all. I want you to stop this charade or I will turn you over to the authorities for mail fraud.” I didn’t get a response, but he is nowhere to be found..website down, out of business. I did all of this because I am a 9 year Lymes sufferer and I have experimented with cannabis and honey for years and have come up with my own process for “infusing” honey with weed and it works extremely well. I have a few dozen regulars who are near my age of 70 and they find much relief from this simple concoction. The process is simple but lengthy, requires aging, and the honey is never heated nor mixed with high temperature weed solution. This is extremely important. Using organic honey is a must in order for it to realize its greatest potential. This cannabis honey is made with Kozmic Kush and is rich in THC. The honey is blue ribbon organic honey. I don’t grow the weed, I buy it in order to maintain consistency. I don’t gather the honey, I buy it from Kirkland for the same reason. Cannabis oil is not a factor in this recipe. There you have it. Thank you for this blog, Rusty.
Thanks for a fascinating update. I’m glad to hear the bee trainer is out of business.
The only thing that I can say about this charlatan that is good is that his posting got people to think about how honey is actually made. For me this resulted in a professional paper published in Bee Culture. Would you be able to forward me this information to put into a follow up article?
In just the last 2 days I have managed to ruffle the feathers of Mr. Trainerbees and he contacted me on Facebook, telling me it wasn’t his website I ordered from, that he has never attempted to sell his product.
We had an ‘amicable’ conversation, of sorts, but, when he PMed me, his faltering English improved to perfectly fluent and he was raving that I should ‘hunt this imposter down and sic the cops on him’. At this point, I could care less about a battle to recover my losses. The experience helped me learn more about honey and bees, more than the years I spent in the orchards with them, all of us living harmoniously and hard at work..more than the years I’ve known to respect honey as a living, fragile organism. That is good enough for me and I found it strange that someone so close to bees could become so volatile. Now, I have no idea what or whom to believe about this incident, and, moreover, whether he is or isn’t the actual swindler is not important to me, he has shown me nothing to encourage me to believe this isn’t a bunch of smoke and mirrors. Sharon, you are welcome to use my words and experience..please include this update, though. I don’t want to accuse the wrong person of a crime, just want to set the record straight. If you would like to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I can email you sales receipts, photo of the ‘offending jug’, website name, etc. thanks, all..and again, thank you Rusty…your blog is amazing! so much information and sharing!
Hi, I was able to use honey bees to infuse honey. I also had the end product lab tested and verified. Check out my video with all the findings. Hope you guys like it
Where I currently live there is such a thing as cannabis honey. It has absolutely nothing to do with bees. Once it’s processed it has the consistency and stickiness of honey however, it actually is the oil extracted from extremely compressed cannabis. It’s a golden amber color.
Thank you Rusty for a great article. I discovered a landrace that naturally grows about 10 to 12 feet in pots and the males give off an incredibly vast amount of pollen. The plants are equatorial so they mature branch by branch and therefore give off sustained amounts of pollen. I’ve observed since June the male plants (I had about 7 females, five males, and two hermaphrodites) covered in mostly wild bees, flies, and butterflies. This month as I was building out my greenhouse for the winter, I’ve noticed honey bees with huge amount of pollen on their back legs, like little bowling balls. After reading your article I realize, all one could claim is that your honey contains hemp pollen. I’ve heard some beekeepers give their hive nectar. Is there a way to give them infused nectar? Would that have an effect on their health? If you check out my Instagram you can see two short videos of the bees on the male plants and one of a bee with pollen on its legs. Thanks for a very informative article, Rusty.
Wow. Ok, thc honey is just edibles… decarboxolated infused… nothing to do with bees making honey hahaha, wow.
I figured out, I can infuse honey in about two minutes. No separation, no weird things floating in it, just infused clear honey.
I’m very new to beekeeping but know cannabis 3rd generation grower and been processing for over 20 years now own a dispensary in Michigan. I’m wondering if you make infused sugar water feed if you would in turn get organically infused honey.
Maybe, although I don’t know what the bees’ digestive enzymes would do to it.