WHY DO BEES NEED OUR HELP?
In 2015, Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) rates increased 6% to affect 41% of managed bee colonies nationwide. Some scientists estimate that all managed bee colonies could face total decimation by CCD within five years.
Although CCD is not fully understood, it appears to be a destructive synergism of multiple factors. Pathogen (bacterial & viral) infection harms bees already challenged by other stress factors: parasitic mites, pesticides, fungicides, and GMO exposure. These stressors of infection, parasitism, toxins, and immune deficits/depression may initiate CCD.
HELPING TO SAVE THE HONEYBEE WITH MUSHROOMS
In 2014, Paul Stamets (leading mycologist, visionary and TED Talk presenter), Steve Sheppard (chair of department of entomology, Washington State University) and the Washington State Beekeepers Association teamed up in a research initiative called BeeFriendly™ to help reverse devastating declines in the global bee population that are critically threatening the world’s food security.
In 2015, 300 sets of bees consumed polypore mushroom extracts via their feed water. The experiments were designed to measure how mushroom extract supplementation impacted viral burdens and longevity.
Polypore extracts, especially Reishi and Chaga, showed substantial benefit to honeybees, including extended longevity and reduction of their viral burden by more than 75%.
“Our research goal is to help solve Colony Collapse Disorder, and the results look promising! With regard to the Chaga and Reishi extracts,” Sheppard says, “as an entomologist with 39 years of experience studying bees, I am unaware of any reports of materials that extend the life of worker bees more than this.”
Dozens of more experiments are underway including research on whether certain species of mycopesticide fungi can eliminate the parasitic Varroa destructor mites that decimate beehives around the world.
“We take bees from colonies with high Varroa mite levels and set up numerous test environments with fungi. We’re finding that the fungi product is killing mites without harming bees. It’s certainly encouraging.” says Sheppard.
A short video showing:
The BeeMushroomed Feeder in action with bees visiting the inner well.
A Timelapse showing the speed at which the bees consume the extract on a summer day.
“Colony loss from the Varroa mite (and other factors such as loss of foraging habitat, pesticides, and other viruses) averaged 40 percent across the United States from 2017 to 2018 and spiked as high as 70% in some states. Colony losses averaged 40% across the United States from 2017 to 2018 and spiked as high as 85% in some states.”
Source: “Preliminary results: 2017–2018 Total and Average Honey Bee Colony Losses by State and the District of Columbia,” BeeInformed.org. accessed June 21, 2018