It's mushrooms to the rescue in a major study to stop bee colony collapse disorder. One culprit, parasitic varroa mites, stood out as a major threat because they were developing tolerance for many pesticides.
Scientists have figured out how to introduce fungal spores into the bee food, since the fungal bodies often died in the high temperatures of beehives. Via BioGraphic:
While many scientists have continued to search for causes of honey bee declines, others have turned their attention to developing new, more sustainable solutions to these threats. One of the more surprising and promising of these strategies is the use of compounds produced by a widely-distributed mushroom (Metarhizium anisopliae) that is known to parasitize a number of different insects. Researchers from Washington State University have found that spores and extracts from this mushroom are particularly toxic to varroa mites but—in low doses—leave bees unharmed. In fact, bees in hives treated with Metarhizium tend to be much healthier and live longer than those in untreated hives. While large-scale trials are just now being implemented, early results suggest that a common mushroom may hold the answer to at least one major driver of honey bee declines.
• Can Mushrooms Save the Honey Bee? (YouTube / bioGraphicMagazine)
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