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Image: Beekeeper pointing to bees

Mushrooms are Saving Honeybee Colonies!

About 30 years ago, the worst house guest ever arrived in honeybee hives in the United States. 1 As a result of forcing the bees to become their literal host, the parasitic Varroa mites have passed viruses that have decimated entire colonies, contributing to the loss of 40% of the colonies in the U.S. 2 But scientists may have found a solution to the viruses these mites are spreading. And that solution is from mushrooms!

As Bret Adee, a third-generation beekeeper stated in an interview with NPR about the mites, “Killing a bug on a bug, without killing the main bug, is really tough.” 3

So let’s take a look at how mushrooms are being used to combat the deadly viruses these mites have brought into hives! 

Image: Beekeeper pointing to bees
Source: Pixabay

Sometimes a catastrophe is exactly the catalyst we need to go out and learn more about the world. And on the best occasions, we learn that the best solutions don’t require a big change to our practices.

This is an innovation you can bring up whenever bees or mushrooms come into your conversation. (Which, let’s be honest, should be a lot!)

Super Fungi!

Fungus, to put it concisely, is awesome. With what’s believed to be over 5.1 million different species 4, we now know they connect the world through microscopic threads called mycelium and they offer a buffet of benefits—including the antibiotics you and I have to thank for protecting us against deadly bacteria.

And now, it appears they have yet another function. Fungi from genera Fomes and Ganoderma have been enlisted to create an antiviral for honeybees! 5

This short video produced by the great Louie Schwartzberg’s for bioGraphic shows us how!

Via: MOVING ART by Louie Schwartzberg 6

BioGraphic, from the California Academy of Sciences, hosts this video and has a wonderful, informative write up that goes along with it. You can read the entire thing by clicking here. Even more, while you’re there, take a moment to peruse their entire video library! It’s a treasure trove of fascinating parts of our world.

And you can see more astounding short videos from Louie Schwartzberg by visiting their Vimeo library. You can also catch the full series of Moving Art over on Netflix!

(Furthermore, if you’re at all interested in fungus, Louie’s upcoming film, Fantastic Fungi, may be right up your alley. Watch the trailer here!)

What have been the impacts of this mushroom mixture?

In a great piece from WIRED, written by Robbie Gonzalez, we get a great look at how all of this works. Here’s a little snippet about the results of introducing the mycelium extracts of reishi and amadou mushrooms into hives:

“In both indoor experiments and outdoor field tests, bees that fed on mycelium extracts fared significantly better than those that drank only sugar water. In caged bees infected with DWV [Deformed Wing Virus], the researchers observed an 800-fold decrease in virus titres (a measure of the level of virus in the bee’s system) among bees dosed with amadou extract. The effect was less powerful in the field, which are less strictly controlled than lab trials—colonies fed reishi extract saw a 79-fold reduction in DWV, those fed amadou extract a 44-fold reduction—but the results were still highly significant. (In other field tests, bees fed reishi extract saw a remarkable 45,000-fold reduction in Lake Sinai virus—another disease ravaging honeybee populations.)” 7

Thanks, mushrooms!

Read the rest of the great article from WIRED by clicking here. It’s a wonderful and informative read!

Learn more about the impact bees and mushrooms have on the world with these great circles!

Because these are two of our favorite topics, we’ve collected our articles about fungi and bees into two playlists for your viewing ease! Click one of the two down below to begin your exploration of these worlds:

Meet the Ancient Superheroes Fighting Cancer, PTSD, Pollution, and Saving the Bees!

What if everything we need to solve many of our most vexing problems is growing, silently, all around us? Mushrooms are an unexplored powerhouse that could very well save the world! 

Read Article Watch Video Listen to Podcast
Into the Wild World of Mushroom Hunting—the Perfect Social Distancing Activity!

Have you ever looked at a mushroom and wondered, can I eat that? Well, before you decide to take a bite, you might want to meet a few of the guides on today’s adventures. They’ll have you excited to grab your basket and start foraging!

Read Article Watch Video Listen to Podcast

There’s a lot going on behind the scenes with the production of our food. So the next time you’re looking at some beautiful honey, remember all of the players that made it possible.

Stay open to new possibilities!

  • Sam

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” — Albert Einstein 

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Notes:

  1. Rondeau, Sabrina. “Mite versus Mite: The Search for an Effective Way to Save Honeybees.” The Conversation, 30 Jan. 2019, theconversation.com/mite-versus-mite-the-search-for-an-effective-way-to-save-honeybees-108873. Accessed 23 May 2019.
  2. Bjerga, Alan. “Honeybees May Be Dying in Larger Numbers Due to Climate Change.” Bloomberg, 23 May 2018, www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-23/bee-death-increase-may-be-tied-to-climate-change-survey-says. Accessed 23 May 2019.
  3. King, Anna. “Massive Loss Of Thousands Of Hives Afflicts Orchard Growers And Beekeepers.” NPR, 18 Feb. 2019, www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2019/02/18/694301239/massive-loss-of-thousands-of-hives-afflicts-orchard-growers-and-beekeepers. Accessed 23 May 2019.
  4. Blackwell, Meredith. “The Fungi: 1, 2, 3 … 5.1 Million Species?” American Journal of Botany, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2 Mar. 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21613136/.
  5. Gonzalez, Robbie. “A Mushroom Extract Might Save Bees From a Killer Virus.” Wired, Conde Nast, 4 Oct. 2018, www.wired.com/story/a-mushroom-extract-might-save-bees-from-a-killer-virus/. Accessed 23 May 2019.
  6. Schwartzberg, Louie. “Biographic & Moving Art.” Vimeo, Louie Schwartzberg, 21 May 2019, vimeo.com/213699106. Accessed 23 May 2019.
  7. Gonzalez, Robbie. “A Mushroom Extract Might Save Bees From a Killer Virus.” Wired, Conde Nast, 4 Oct. 2018, www.wired.com/story/a-mushroom-extract-might-save-bees-from-a-killer-virus/. Accessed 23 May 2019.
Published: May 24, 2019

Image: Samantha Burns

Sam Burns

Former Editor-In-Chief

Sam wrote and edited hundreds of articles during her time on the Goodness Exchange team from 2016-2021. She wrote about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world and the simple joys in life! Outside of the Goodness Exchange, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and procurer of cheeses.

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