How Shrooms Can Save Bees…and 5 Ways You Can Help Them Too!

If you come by the Natural Food Store this summer, you’ll notice a prominent section of the store dedicated to bees. Our favorite mushroom company, Host Defense, has recently launched BeeFriendly™, a research initiative whose aim is to help save the honey bee population from total collapse. With every Host Defense purchase this summer, you are supporting this important project to help save the honey bee.


The Current Condition of Bees

Dairy Aisle WITH beesDairy Aisle WITHOUT beesSince the early 1990’s, we’ve seen a devastating loss of honey bees across the globe, a condition known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Between 2006 and 2011, the U.S. lost nearly a third of our bees, with massive losses continuing each winter. (annual nationwide survey of beekeepers.)

Life on this planet is dependent on the pollinators of plants, the honey bee being one of the most crucial. According to NDRC (National Resource Defense Center) bee pollination “helps at least 30 percent of the world’s crops and 90 percent of our wild plants to thrive.” Without the bees we will experience massive losses in farmed crops and native plants alike. The pictures below represent what our supermarkets look like With or Without bees.

Paul Stamets

I first came across Paul Stamets back in 2008 when I watched his TED Talks presentation 6 Ways Mushrooms Can Save the World. It transformed the way I saw the mushroom kingdom.

It was his next TED presentation in 2011 that really hooked me when he discussed mushrooms that are among the world’s best medicine, including the Turkey Tail that was used to help his mother go from stage 4 breast cancer to completely tumor free. Here is this truly inspiring talk.

Whether it’s cleaning up the planet or fighting cancer, Stamets is on a mission to show how powerful mushrooms can be. Now he has set his sights on bees.


BeeFriendly Initiative

bee-display2In 2014, mycologist (studier of mushrooms) Paul Stamets teamed up with entomologist (studier of insects) Steve Shepphard and the Washington State Beekeepers Association to launch BeeFriendly and to research how certain medicinal mushroom extracts can help the bees overcome the threats they are facing. According to Stamets- “We are studying mycological solutions to increase longevity, reduce mite and viral burden, and improve immunity of honey bees.”  What the Mushroom Man is saying in plain English is that they are feeding mushroom extracts to bee colonies and seeing an improvement in the lifespan of bees. Many of these mushrooms have immune-supportive properties, antiviral properties, and make bees resistant to predators like the varroa mite.

The results have been amazing thus far. According to Shepphard- “as an entomologist with 39 years of experience studying bees, I am unaware of any reports of materials that extend the life of worker bees more than this.”


Take Action and Join the Fight to Save the Bees

If you are interested in joining the fight to save bees, here are a few tips:

1. Support initiatives like BeeFriendly. For every mushroom extract that stores like ours can sell, money and other resources are donated to continue the research for helping bees!

2. Support farmers who don’t use pesticides harmful to bees. We exercise our power of influence with every dollar we spend.

3. Go pesticide-free in your lawn and garden. How long until we figure out that we are killing the very insects that are necessary to grow our beautiful plants.

4. Plant flowers that are bee friendly. Here is a great list that will add amazing beauty to your garden and will attract bees in the process.

5. Join your local Beekeepers Association. Here is the website for our local White County Chapter, and if you live elsewhere in Arkansas, find your local chapter Beekeepers Associations.


Eric McMullen, C.N.C, M.Ed.