Mushrooms Help Give Bees a Chance
Our planet is an interconnected web with each species of animal and plant dependent (directly or indirectly) on the wellbeing of the others. A prime player in the web of life is the honey bee. It is estimated that one-third of our food is on our plate because of pollination by honey bees. According to Paul Stamets, a renowned mycologist and founder of Host Defense Mushrooms, “30% of our food is directly pollinated by bees and 70% of our food is controlled by pollinators.”
Why is Pollination so Important?
Can you imagine if a third of the food you eat no longer exists? Or a world without gardens, medicinal plants and meadows teeming with wildflowers? Would you miss strawberry shortcake, apple pie and blueberry muffins? How about honey? Bees and other pollinators make all this possible. Bee pollination contributes to 80% of plant species worldwide.
Pollination is the means by which plants, including food crops, reproduce. Flowers create pollen in male organs called anthers. Bees and other pollinators transfer the pollen to female organs called stigmas. This process produces fruits and seeds to create the next generation of plant or to nourish those who eat them. Pollination is so vital to our survival that in parts of China where the bee population has declined people actually hand-pollinate using paint brushes to anoint each flower with pollen.
People aren’t the only ones who depend on pollination-enabled sustenance. Livestock and other mammals as well as birds also consume pollinated plants. In addition, many wild plants, including trees, rely on pollinators. Bees are essential not just for agriculture but for healthy ecosystems from savanna to temperate and tropical forests. These busy buzzers contribute to biodiversity and wildlife habitat maintenance around the world.
Why are Bees in Trouble?
Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) occurs when the majority of a colony’s worker bees abandon the hive. Although the queen and some immature and nurse bees remain behind, it is the worker bees that sustain the hives. They provide food, water and protection; keep the hives sanitary; maintain hive temperature and more. Without them the colony fails.
The causes of CCD are unclear, but it is believed that several factors contribute: toxic pesticides and fungicides, bacterial and viral infections, parasitic mites like Varroa, and exposure to GMOs are suspected. On top of all that, add loss of biodiverse habitats on a global scale.
Mushrooms to the Rescue!
Many of you are already familiar with the many and varied benefits that medicinal mushrooms have for people, but bee-friendly fungi may help save the world by helping bees.
Paul Stamets and Steve Sheppard (Chair of Washington State University Department of Entomology) together with the Washington State Beekeepers Association formed BeeFriendly™ in 2014. It is a research initiative “created to support the research and development of fungal strategies to improve bee health and offset the use of toxic pesticides.” They created experiments to see if mushroom extracts have a beneficial influence on bees. Bees were fed a sugar syrup (bee food) to which fungal extracts were added supplying myconutrients and B vitamins. These extracts, particularly reishi and chaga, produced benefits including extended longevity and 75% reduced viral burden for the bees. Reishi and amadou (the felt-hat mushroom) were found to give immune benefits to bees. Other experiments are exploring the use of Metarhizium fungi to control deadly Varroa mites. Considering the importance of bees to our sustenance, as well as world economies, this is very exciting news.
How Can We Help?
Host Defense Mushrooms
The term “host defense” refers to an organism’s ability to protect itself from infections. Our host defense includes barriers (skin and mucous membranes) as well as immune system cells and responses (macrophages and antibodies, for example). Mushrooms have a wide range of positive defensive actions on our behalf. Most of the mushrooms in the Host Defense line are antibacterial and/or antiviral. Many have anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor activity according to research. Others are specific for brain, respiratory and cardiovascular health. Some are even effective against Candida.
In addition to single mushrooms, Host Defense offers synergistic formulas. Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis) and reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) are a dynamic duo that, together, checks off all the boxes of targeted therapeutic effects. This powerful pair (50:50) works together in CordyChi to enhance energy and oxygen uptake with cellular nutrients; to support healthy immune response in the lungs and upper respiratory tract; to support cardiovascular health and promote a healthy response to stress.
Other targeted formulas include Breathe which adds chaga (Ionotus obliquus) to the reishi-cordyceps combo (one-third each) for respiratory support that enhances energy and oxygen uptake, supports a balanced immune response in the lungs/respiratory tract, as well as the whole body, and may even help modulate reactions to environmental triggers.
For foundational immunity try Stamets 7, a daily overall immune support formula. This septet includes the above-mentioned fungi plus Agaricus brasiliensis, maitake (Grifola frondosa), lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus) and mesima (Phellinus linteus). It promotes healthy respiratory, digestive, circulatory, cellular, lymphatic and systemic functions. It can increase natural killer cells by more than 300% while supporting the body’s ability to adapt to physical, mental and environmental stressors. In addition, it enhances natural blood-sugar modulation.
For more comprehensive immune support turn to MyCommunity. It is a blend of 17 mighty mushrooms that encourages resistance to cellular assaults with a diverse range of constituents from a unique blend of mycelium and fruitbodies.
Host Defense products are vegan and gluten-free and some are available as liquids and/or powders.
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The beautiful Give Bees a Chance illustration pictured above is by Northwest artist Jim Henterly.
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