Recent studies published in Nature Scientific Reports have documented how a specific mushroom extract can help honey bees fight off a devastating virus that is believed to be contributing to huge bee die-offs.

Washington State University researchers, with the help of USDA and Fungi Perfecti, a Washington based business, have developed a mycelium extract from reishi and amadou fungi that is having a profound positive effect on the health of bee colonies.

According to the researchers, colonies given the extract have experienced a 79-fold reduction in deformed wing virus and a 45,000-fold reduction in Lake Sinai virus. Both viruses are devastating to bee colonies.

WSU entomology professor Steve Sheppard, one of the study’s authors, is hoping to make these viruses a thing of the past.

“Our greatest hope is that these extracts have such an impact on viruses that they may help varroa mites become an annoyance for bees, rather than causing huge devastation. We’re excited to see where this research leads us. Time is running out for bee populations and the safety and security of the world’s food supply hinges on our ability to find means to improve pollinator health.

One of the major ways varroa mites hurt bees is by spreading and amplifying viruses. Mites really put stress on the bees’ immune systems, making them more susceptible to viruses that shorten worker bee lifespans,” Sheppard said.

Sheppard explained that after two years of research, the extracts have demonstrated anti-viral properties that extend to honey bees.

“We are ramping up production of the extracts as rapidly as is feasible, given the hurdles we must overcome to deploy this on a wide scale,” famous mushroom researcher Paul Stamets said.

Mushroom extracts are renown for their immune boosting qualities, however the researchers aren’t sure if the extract is directly boosting the bees’ immunity or if it is attacking the viruses.

And on the plus side, you too can help with the bee populations. New beehive designs are readily available to anyone wishing to give mother nature a helping hand.