A New Study Shows How Mushrooms Could Save Bees. Yes, Mushrooms. – Mother Jones
Over the past decade, the honeybee story has been the stuff of science fiction. Back in 2006, beekeepers first noticed their honeybees were mysteriously dying off in huge numbers, with no clear cause. For some, a whopping 30 to 90 percent of their colonies were disappearing, especially on the East Coast. Worker bees were abandoning their queens and leaving hives full of honey. That first winter, beekeepers nationwide lost about a third of their colonies. Since then, the numbers haven’t improved.
Researchers now call this ongoing phenomenon “colony collapse disorder,” but scientists still haven’t identified a singular cause. They say it’s a combination of factors: pollution, habitat loss, herbicides, and viruses, though some experts believe viruses may be the primary driver. For instance, “deformed wing virus,” which causes bees to develop disfigured, nonfunctional wings, can be nasty, and, like other viruses, is transferred to bees by parasitic mites. Until now, scientists haven’t developed any antiviral treatments to protect the bees.
But in a landmark study published Thursday in Nature journal Scientific Reports, researchers revealed they’ve discovered the first-ever “vaccine” for bees, procured from an unexpected source: mushrooms. Specifically, it’s mycelia—cobweb-like fungal membranes found in and on soil—from two species, “tinder fungus” and Red Reishi mushrooms.