OPPORTUNISTIC BY NATURE, honey bees are industrious and highly efficient gatherers of pollen and resins. Honey the most well known by-product of the species, is produced by the gathering of nectar from flowering plants by foraging worker bees. The bees continue to visit flowers until full, then fly back to the hive to deposit the harvested nectar into hexagonal honeycombs. A second lesser-known substance created by bees is propolis. This viscous concoction is used by bees for reinforcing, stabilizing and sanitizing the hive. Propolis is created as worker bees collect oleo-resins and saps from sticky, budding plants like trees and shrubbery. This means that propolis can also be produced from the flowering female cannabis plant.
Propolis is a highly medicinal substance for humans, it has been shown to be highly anti-microbial, and works to boost the immune system among many other things. Recently a lifelong apiarist and cannabis advocate who goes by the name, “Nicolas Trainerbees” has revealed that his personal swarms have been trained to collect the resins off of his budding cannabis plants. Trainerbees is quickly gaining the interest of people across the globe with pictures and videos depicting his dutifully laboring bees almost completely covering resinous colas of European sativas.
Naturally infused cannabis honey; Mother Nature allowed a magical infusion to take place combining the medicinal properties of propolis with those of cannabis resins and terpenes, ready to be mixed into raw honey made by the very same bees. The potential holistic health applications are innumerable, ranging from fighting infections to supplementing and managing chronic illness. I had the chance to explore the keeping of cannabis collecting honey bees with Mr. Trainerbees.
“Trainerbees,” I don’t suspect this is your real name.
Unfortunately, I must keep my secret name to avoid legal problems in France, until I am able to relocate to Spain. Even if my last harvest happened in Spain, the dissemination of images containing cannabis may be considered in France as the “incitement to use” which is severely repressed.
Where are you from? What are cannabis laws like there?
I am originally from the North of France. France is very restrictive on cannabis, it is forbidden to consume and planting of cannabis bearing more than 0.2% THC as only hemp can be produced with very restrictive conditions. Even having cannabis leaves printed on clothes is forbidden. In France, speaking positively of cannabis is prohibited, it is considered to be inciting use and it punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and a 75,000 euro fine, simple smoking once can cost 3750 euros and 1 year in jail.
What is your story? Tell us about yourself.
I am from a normal family, living my childhood in the countryside. I developed a syndrome of hyperactivity as a youngster, which made me have a lot of problems with the education system.
Since childhood, I’ve been interested in biology, science and nature. I love contact with insects and plants. My father loved nature and was able to share his love and his knowledge on nature. In the 1990s, I found interest in new technologies, the advent of the internet has allowed me to increase my knowledge very quickly in the field of cannabis. I have then traveled to the Netherlands to learn more and lead a double life with one side as a well-integrated tradesman very appreciated by people, recognized as a defender of nature. The other consists of working and teaching about cannabis, reducing risks and the cultivation of plants without fertilizers or pesticides. This double life does not please me, I prefer to migrate from France in order to freely express my knowledge.
How long have you practiced bee keeping?
I’ve enjoyed honey since I was a child. My first encounters with beekeeping dates back to my childhood, working with beekeepers from my region. I also had wild colonies that I watched over, subsequently helping beekeepers from time to time. Seven years ago, I decided to take care of bees as an amateur to collect products from the hive (honey, pollen, propolis). Four years ago, I became a professional beekeeper.
What does keeping bees mean to you?
For me it means love. Observing and helping colonies to grow in virtuous conditions, protecting from fungicides and other pesticides, ensuring the hive lacks nothing. I work to educate people about the benefits of beekeeping, natural products of the hive, how bees perform pollination of fruits and flowers that surround us. Being a beekeeper is like being father, he must love his bees and keep them well.
When did you begin training your bees to respond to the cannabis plant? What gave you the idea?
The idea to use cannabis resin, began slightly more than six years ago. After several friends, all cannabis users who knew my skills and knowledge of the behavior of insects, said to me: “You would succeed if you were to train bees to collect cannabis resin to make honey”.
How did you get them to show interest in the plant?
Everyone should know that bees come naturally to male cannabis plants for pollen, which will become the food of the brood. They are naturally familiar with the plant and have used it for millennia.
Can you describe the process?
The training process is secret and still ongoing for improvement, the only thing I can say, is that the bees use the resin in the hive as propolis and not directly use nectar like many believe. The bees put this propolis everywhere in the hive, including the honeycombs.
How long does it take for a swarm to harvest the resin from a cannabis plant?
The hive which produces the cannahoney works for three weeks on surrounding vegetation to produce more or less three kilos of propolis and honey.
What special techniques are applied during the harvesting?
There is no special harvesting technique; I simply remove the wax as a normal honey harvest. Filtration is of course necessary.
What does the future hold for your bees?
I would like to continue to develop my technique of training and explore other options with my bees.
What do you usually do with finished product?
I share the harvest with friends, for the pleasure of sharing. I also produce healing creams with wax and propolis extractions.
What strains work the best for this project?
All strains work, but sativas are the best because the bees working for three weeks on a plant allows for flowering to continue once they are done.
Any special advice for SKUNK Magazine readers?
At the present time, bees lose much of the resin and destroy plants during the process. This makes commercial productions of this honey and propolis unprofitable and nearly impossible to market. I hope to fast forward my research to reduce costs while still respecting the bees. It is important that all those who want to become a beekeeper shall inform themselves and take lessons. Bees are not objects. Mother Nature needs bees as much as we need them.
What do you have to say about global cannabis prohibition?
The prohibition is a failure and has always been, as it was for the prohibition of alcohol in the United States. It is time to empower, educate and inform rather than punish.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
The human race is the only species on Earth that has forgotten the respect for nature and its cycle. We must again attain balance.