Could a mushroom save the honeybee?

08.04.2016. 18:09

A mushroom farmer and a scientist have created a beehive containing fungi that might just be the key to saving the imperiled honey bee.

Do you realise how serious it would to be if Bees become extinct? Life without bees isn’t life at all. Seriously, have you considered just how empty supermarkets would be if the tiny, bumbling insects went extinct?

Since the 1980’s, bee populations have diminished dramatically. At least 61 culprits – from viruses to pesticides – have been blamed, but scientists are still groping for answers.

Mushroom can protect bees from viruses

Farmer Paul Stamets started thinking there might be a possible relationship between his crop of mushrooms and bee health after he watched the insects in his garden eating the root-like filaments called mycelium.

Stamets launched a research project — backed by the National Institutes of Health and the Defense Department — that eventually allowed him to show that compounds in certain mushrooms can boost a bee’s immune system.

“Nature leads us to solutions if we connect the dots, are open minded and think creatively. We need to be innovative to create solutions that help tilt the balance to help bees, and ultimately us.“, Stamets said.

Their research so far has shown that mushrooms on certain trees frequented by bees in the Pacific Northwest actually can protect them from viruses. The mushroom nutrients also help bees break down harmful pesticides and chemicals. His next step was to go after the mites.

Stamets teamed up with Washington State University entomologist — and beekeeper — Steve Sheppard, and the two have been exploring the idea that mushrooms might be able to protect bees from the little parasites.

After identifying a species of mushroom — Metarhizium anisopliae — that appears to kill the varroa mites without hurting the bees, they are now testing beehives that contain the mushrooms that would create natural protection for colonies.

If you want to find out more about Stamets projcet, watch the video.