Originally published June 29, 2019
By Roy L Hales
There was an upside to this summer’s long ferry waits at the Whaletown terminal on Cortes island. One of North America’s leading fungi experts, Paul Stamets, was in the car in front of me. While we were waiting for a second ferry, he told me about his discovery an anti-dote for colony collapse disorder.
Wild Bees Are Infected
“I’ve been working with the USDA, the United States Department of Agriculture, and Washington State University. Dr Jay Evans, of the USDA, told me has not seen a virus free bee in ten years. Wild bees are infected with viruses, but not ALL wild bees with Deformed Wing Virus. The concern is that they will soon will be from domesticated honey bees. Why? Well, when the honey bees visit a flower they leave viral particles on the flower and so when wild bees come to the same flower they pick up the viral particle. So now this virus has spread all over, even yellow jackets have been found to carry the deformed wing virus.”
“ … We are facing a tremendous threat to our world-wide food security … It’s getting worse. This is the proverbial canary in the coal mine. The loss of honey bees is one factor for commercial implications, but most people don’t realize that wild bees, bumble bees and other wild bees, give farmers approximately 80% of their benefits. [This] pollination comes from wild bees, not honey bees … The loss of wild bees is even more dramatic, but much harder to calculate.”
The Leading Cause of Colony Collapse
“ … When colony collapse occurs for the bee keeper, you can go out on Monday and the bees look great; you go out on a Friday and they are all gone. Hundreds of pounds of honey in your bee hive, but the bees are gone. What happened to them?” – Paul Stamets
“One of the major ways varroa mites hurt bees is by spreading and amplifying viruses. Mites really put stress on the bees’ immune systems, making them more susceptible to viruses that shorten worker bee lifespans.” – Steve Sheppard, WSU entomology professor and one of Stamets’ co-authors in the report published in NATURE..
In the Podcast
- Why 45% of the domestic bee hives in Canada and the United States were lost last winter.
- What is a bees normal lifespan? How drastically does deformed wing virus shorten a bees lifespan? And what does this mean to the hives natural defences?
- Neonicotinoids, phosphates and factory farming are all taking their toll on bee populations.
- Why the USDA limited the deployment of this antidote to wild bees.
- How can you help wild bees in their fight for survival?
- Why are bees are attracted to rotting logs?
- How deforestation threatens mycelim, forests, and the survival of many species (including humanity).
- Much, much more.
The Antidote For Colony Collapse Disorder
“What we were able to demonstrate is that our mushroom mycelium extract from polypore mushrooms that grow here on Cortes Island, when they are added to sugar water …which all commercial bee keepers give to their colonies … when you add 1% of the extract from these polypore mushrooms … it reduces these viruses in one case by 45,000 to one.” – Paul Stamets
“ … Colonies fed mycelium extract from amadou and reishi fungi showed a 79‑fold reduction in deformed wing virus and a 45,000‑fold reduction in Lake Sinai virus compared to control colonies.” – Steve Sheppard, WSU
- Paul Stamets et al, “Extracts of Polypore Mushroom Mycelia Reduce Viruses in Honey Bees”, NATURE, Oct 4, 2018
- Scott Weybright, “Fungus Provides Powerful Medicine in Fighting Honeybee Viruses,” WSU INSIDER, Oct 4, 2018
- “Can Mushrooms Save The Honey Bee?” WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY NEWS, Feb 16, 2015
- For more information, books, products or upcoming seminars – visit Paul Stamet’s website Fungi Perfecti
- Donate directly to organizations like Washington State University’s Honey Bee Lab
Paul Edward Stamets
Paul Stamets, D. Sc. (Honoris causa) speaker, author, mycologist, medical researcher and entrepreneur, is considered an intellectual and industry leader in fungi: habitat, medicinal use, and production. He lectures extensively to deepen the understanding and respect for the organisms that literally exist under every footstep taken on this path of life.
Paul’s philosophy is that “MycoDiversity is BioSecurity.” He sees the ancient Old Growth forests of the Pacific Northwest as a resource of incalculable value, especially in terms of its fungal genome. His research is considered breakthrough by thought leaders for creating a paradigm shift for helping ecosystems worldwide.
Books & Websites
Paul is the author of six books (including Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World, Growing Gourmet & Medicinal Mushrooms, and Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World), he has discovered and named four new species of psilocybin mushrooms, and is the founder and owner of Fungi Perfecti, LLC (www.fungi.com), makers of the Host Defense Mushrooms (www.hostdefense.com) nutraceutical supplement line.
He has received numerous awards, including: Invention Ambassador (2014-2015) for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the National Mycologist Award (2014) from the North American Mycological Association (NAMA), and the Gordon & Tina Wasson Award (2015) from the Mycological Society of America (MSA).
Into Popular Culture & Beyond
His work has entered into the mainstream of popular culture. In the new Star Trek: Discovery series on CBS, the Science Officer is portrayed by an Astromycologist…. a Lt. Paul Stamets. Paul’s work with mycelium is a central theme of this series.
Top photo credit: Example of deformed wing virus in a honeybee. Note the stumpy, useless wings, deformed abdomen, leg paralysis, and weakness of the neck muscles by Xolani90 via Wikipedia (CC By SA, 3.0 License)