Story ran in HuffPo August 26, 2016
The fate of the honeybees and humans is inexorably linked.
The bees provide us our food and clothes (cotton). In addition to 2.6 billion pounds of honey and 44 million pounds of beeswax each year, bees provide potent pain and cancer medicines.
The key to our survival lies in working with nature, not against her.
Scientists from the University of Maryland and the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently identified as many as 21 pesticides and fungicides in plant pollen found inside honeybee hives.
Nursery bees mix protein-rich plant pollen with honey, known as beebread, and feed it to developing larvae. That protein is of paramount importance because it builds healthy autoimmune systems and bee brains. There are approximately one million neurons in a bee’s brain and some of those neurons are responsible for giving honeybees distinctpersonalities.
When healthy honeybee larvae were fed pollen contaminated with fungicide like those used in some apple orchards, they were three times more likely to be attacked by parasite.
America is suffering its worst bee crisis. Last year, 44 percent of U.S. honeybees died.
That is an astounding 58 billion bee deaths.
Beekeeping in America is quickly becoming a non-starter business. Is there a way to protect the honeybees from these deadly agricultural chemicals?
My colleagues at Washington State University undertook a longevity stress test on honeybee populations. They found beneficial fungi that bees collect in their environment turn on genes for detoxification pathways in honeybees. Red-belted polypore mushrooms are known to breakdown pesticides, herbicides and fungicides.
Agricultural fungicides reduce beneficial fungi in honeybee colonies. In turn, this shuts off the bees’ beneficial fungi precluding detoxification of colonies. Instead, beehives accumulate poisons and die.
That is Colony Collapse Disorder.
A solution called mycohoney made from polypore mushroom mycelium or roots and honey is a powerful antidote. When bees are fed mycohoney it extends their lives significantly.
We need the bees and the bees need polypore mushrooms. It is nature’s bee medicine.
We also have nature’s flawless blueprint SMART (Sporulating Mushrooms and Repelling Technology) pesticides from fungi that can easily and affordably replace 5.2 billion pounds each year of agricultural chemicals thereby preventing the death of nature on farmer’s fields including honeybees.
Earth Doctor Reese Halter is the author of “The Incomparable Honeybee & The Economics of Pollination.”