Host Defense, the company that makes mushroom supplement blends for immune system support, is supporting an initiative to save bees from colony collapse. “I study mycology and the use of fungi to help clean up the environment, and improve the immune systems of humans and animals…and I began to think: we’ve gone to the moon, we’ve gone to Mars, and we don’t know the way of the bee? I believe I can do something to help the bees,” says company founder Paul Stamets.
Through his research supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense, Stamets found that compounds from certain polypores (fungi that form fruiting bodies with pores or tubes on the underside) are effective for a variety of health applications. He later posited that these same compounds, extracted from polypores, could be applied to managed bee populations to regulate immunity and detoxification pathways associated with pesticides and other harmful environmental contaminants.
“We are studying mycological solutions to increase longevity, reduce mite and viral burden, and improve immunity of honey bees,” says Stamets.
In an experiment 300 sets of bees consumed Host Defense mushroom extracts via their feed water. The mycelium based mushroom extracts, especially Reishi and Chaga, reduced their viral burden by more than 75%. Recent results show that extracts of the Amadou mushroom reduced the Deformed Wing Virus by more than 1000 times. Other mushroom species fed to honeybees increased their longevity in controlled settings from 30% to 100% depending on the life stage of the bee.
More experiments are underway at Washington State University, including research on whether certain species of mycopesticidal fungi can kill the parasitic Varroa mites that decimate beehives around the world.
The company is leading a national campaign roll-out to filmmakers, farmers, beekeepers, and bee associations, natural products customers and retailers, and across social media, to increase awareness and to fund their next stage of research:
Summer 2016—full-sized hive field tests measuring multiple bee health parameters over one year. Fall 2016 & Winter 2017—full-scale field test measuring survival of treated and untreated colonies under diverse locations and producer conditions.
People who wish to support bee research can make tax-deductible donations directly to WSU at http://beefriendlyinitiative.org/. Host Defense Organic Mushrooms, will donate an additional $50,000 to this research, through their “Give Bees A Chance” program, based on sales of certain Host Defense products.