Could Mushrooms Help Save Bees?

Bees are still in big trouble, and mushroom extract may be one of the keys to helping bee populations bounce back.

A Brief History of Colony Collapse

It all started back in 2006, when some bees on the East Coast exhibited the first signs of Colony Collapse Disorder—when entire hives of bees started abandoning their queens and mysteriously dying. Anywhere between 30 and 90 percent of beekeepers’ hives on the East coast were lost in the following decade. And while the rate of population decline has slowed down in recent years, bees still aren’t recovering.

Sound like another tepid animal extinction story? Not this one. Bees are absolutely crucial to our planet. They pollinate one out of every three bites of food we eat. Without them, almonds would cease to exist, blueberries and apples would decline, and coffee and avocados would become prohibitively expensive. Even livestock would run short on grazing pastures.

Without bees, the entire global food system as we know it would utterly crumble.

But, even all these years later, researchers haven’t identified what exactly causes colony collapse. Pesticides, like neonicotinoids, likely play a major role, but there are many other potential factors at play, too. To stymie bee decline, some researchers are studying the rise of ‘deformed wing virus‘—a virus in which bees are born unable to fly properly, which is obviously problematic for the species’ survival.  And they may have just made a major breakthrough.

How Mushrooms Might Help Save Bees

Ganoderma Lucidum - Ling Zhi Mushroom,close up

Mushroom extracts may hold the key to preventing this devastating virus in bees. According to a breakthrough study published in the journal Scientific Reports:

Bees have been observed foraging on mushroom mycelium, suggesting that they may be deriving medicinal or nutritional value from fungi. Fungi are known to produce a wide array of chemicals with antimicrobial activity, including compounds active against bacteria, other fungi, or viruses. 

The research showed that extract of amadou and red reishi mushrooms significantly reduced deformed wing virus among hives. And the more extract the bees were given, the healthier they stayed. This suggests that bees probably reap tremendous antiviral benefits from these fungi.

This is a massive breakthrough for bee research and offers a lot of possibility for preventing viral spreads to hives in the future—hopefully saving a lot of bees!

bee at working

Mushrooms Can Help, But Bees Need More

Why can’t bees fend off this virus themselves in the first place? Surprisingly, bees don’t naturally have the strongest immune systems. In comparison with other insects, the individual immunity of bees is pretty weak. But as a hive, bees have a powerful collective immunity. They use an incredible plant resin substance called ‘propolis’ to ward of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and any other microscopic foreign invaders. They even wipe their feet on a little propolis doormat every time they enter the hive!

But their powerful hive immunity may not be enough in face of modern challenges, like harmful chemical pesticides, parasitic invasions, and loss of habitat due to conventional monoculture farming. While this research on mushroom extracts is incredibly promising, we still need to prioritize clean, pesticide-free gardens and support sustainable raw honey.

We all rely on bees, so we all need to join in on the efforts to save them. It’s crucial.

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90 comments

Emma L
Emma L2 days ago

Thanks

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Marija M
Marija M7 days ago

tks

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Hannah K
Hannah K9 days ago

Thank you.

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Leo C
Leo C10 days ago

Thank you for posting!

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Janis K
Janis K12 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Pietro M
Pietro Maiorana13 days ago

Funghi? Buoni da mangiare, belli da vedere e anche utili come nei casi su. Mi piacciono molto anche perché sono le case dei Puffi!!

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danii p
danii p14 days ago

Thank you

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danii p
danii p14 days ago

Thank you

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Kitty H
Vee B15 days ago

thanks-interesting

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Ruth S
Ruth S17 days ago

Thanks.

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