Could a mushroom save honey bees from Varroa mites?

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What is killing honey bees? The most prevalent cause of death is due to infestation by the invasive Varroa mite, Varroa destructor. This parasite is a serious problem that has plagued American beekeepers since it was first detected in the United States in 1987.

[T]he mites’ abbreviated life span allows them to rapidly develop resistance to the synthetic chemicals that are used to control them. This spells trouble for beekeeping — and ultimately, for the security of the human food supply.

To help the bees, Professor [Steve] Sheppard [a beekeeper and chair of the Entomology Department at Washington State University] teamed up with author and mycologist Paul Stamets, founder of Fungi Perfecti. They recently announced that they may have discovered a way to kill Varroa mites without killing bees: a mushroom.

Mr. Stamets told Professor Sheppard about a mushroom extract that was highly attractive — and highly lethal — to termites.

Initial lab tests on honey bees infected with Varroa mites were promising: bees exposed to this mushroom extract survived whilst their mites quickly died. Of course, these are preliminary findings that must be followed up with more research to determine whether and how this extract can be used to help an entire colony to survive.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Can A Mushroom Save Honey Bees?

  • Henry

    Wow, I am very interested to see if this research can be applied in the future as a product for beekeepers. Varroa mites can be a devastating problem. Right now, I use a top-bar hive that is designed to keep the bees as healthy as possible so they can better fight these pests. The company I bought it from is a sustainable solution to keeping bees https://www.beepods.com/

  • Good4U

    Right, well, the mushroom extract then becomes a pesticide, which must be registered by the U.S. EPA in order to permit it to be distributed for the intended purpose to control varroa mites. It will be subjected to the same data requirements and scientific scrutiny by the EPA as would any other chemical substance which has likewise been deployed for the control of any pest, including varroa mites. Just because it’s from a mushroom doesn’t exempt it from regulatory requirements as a pesticide. It’s no more or less “organic” as anything else.