At the end of this past year, 2018, a small article showed up in the Opinion section of the New York Times. I was grateful a bee friend of mine caught it and sent it to me.
Paul Stamets, a renown mycologist, had written briefly on his study of fungi as a way to reverse the devastation of varroa mites and their parasitic diseases visited on bee colonies—wild and honeybees.
I have followed his research for years, waiting for him to create the “silver bullet”, a mycelial remedy that we can finally, FINALLY, feed our bees to keep them from dying.
Our research shows that extracts from the living mycelial tissue of common wood conk mushrooms known to have antiviral properties significantly reduced these viruses in honeybee colonies, in one field test by 45,000 times, compared to control colonies. In the field tests, we used extracts from two species of wood conks, the red reishi and the amadou. The famous “Iceman” found in a glacier in 1991 in the Alps. carried amadou in a pouch 5,300 years ago. The red reishi has long been used as an immune-boosting tonic in Asia.
As the New Year dawns, wet, snowy and cold here in the Southwest, I feel a glimmer of hope.
Between the Stamets article and perhaps my bee dream, something sings in me that maybe this year can be different—less brutal for my bees, more resources for what ails them. Hope springs eternal…
I will be chasing down the wood conk mushroom extract from Paul Stamets in this new year. I am in love with mushrooms and the possibilities.
According to Wikipedia:
A fungus is any member of the group of eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and molds, as well as the more familiar mushrooms. These organisms are classified as a kingdom, fungi, which is separate from the other eukaryotic life kingdoms of plants and animals.
We humans are made up of fungi and bacteria. Our bodies are veritable columns of bacteria made up of these most primitive forms of life species. Sometimes they can overrun our bodies in bad ways. I know. I am still getting over a serious respiratory virus that has inflamed my trachea for weeks on end, leaving me with a miserable cough.
Fortunately, my beneficial bugs have been hard at work and I am getting well.
According to accredited practicing dietitian Chloe McLeod, “fungi is like bacteria – it’s found in the gut – and is an integral part of the microbiome (our gut’s ‘ecosystem’, if you will).
“While we are still researching this area, we know that a healthy microbiome is made up of both bacteria and fungi, as well as viruses – all of which are integral to maintaining good health. It’s important that these organisms remain in a beneficial balance, so not over-growing, or depleting. Some research shows that fungi found in the gut impacts inflammation and interacts with the immune system.”https://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/nutrition/nutrition-tips/what-is-fungi-and-why-is-crucial-for-your-gut/news-story/53ea35c81a1cd943f0253fdb8b952cc0
As Stamets notes, in the right balance in nature, beneficial fungi can re-right itself.
Nature can repair itself with a little help from mycologists. Fungi outnumber plants by about 6 to 1; there are two million to four million fungal species, though only about 140,000 have been named so far. Our research underlines the need to save biodiversity for the discoveries to come. (Will Mushrooms be Magic for Threatened Bees? , NYT, December 28, 2018, Paul Stamets)
And so, in this new year, I give praise for the magic of mushrooms in my body and in the world around.
God save the bees! Praise be for fungi!