Can Mushrooms Save the Honey Bee?

bioGraphic     Produced by Louie Schwartzberg    April 25, 2017

A blood-sucking mite is wreaking havoc on honey bees - but scientists have discovered a surprising new way to fight back.

A decade ago, honey bee populations around the world began declining at an alarming rate. In the early years of this trend, beekeepers lost 60 percent or more of their hives to a mysterious phenomenon that came to be known as “colony collapse disorder” (CCD). In each of these cases, worker bees simply disappeared, and it doesn’t take long for a colony to collapse without workers to provide food and to care for the young. Although this trend seems to have leveled off somewhat in recent years, the current average rate of 30 percent annual mortality is still nearly double the average rate reported prior to 2006.

Honey bees (Apis mellifera) are native to Europe, western Asia and Africa, but have also been introduced to many other parts of the world to serve as pollinators of agricultural crops. Today, honey bees pollinate one-third of all the crops we consume—nearly a thousand varieties in all—and are by far the world’s most important and economically valuable pollinators for commercial agriculture. In the U.S. alone, their annual value is estimated at $5–14 billion.

Since the first reports of dead and dying honey bee colonies began to stream in, scientists have scrambled to determine the cause, or causes, of CCD. One threat in particular stood out as a major cause of honey bee declines: varroa mites (Varroa destructor). These tiny parasitic arachnids weaken adult and juvenile bees by sucking their blood. They also transmit a number of viruses that can spread throughout a colony like wildfire. To make matters worse, the mites reproduce quickly and, because of this, can rapidly evolve resistance to traditional chemical pesticides.

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.

Fantastic Fungi: The Spirit of Good - Mushroom Mycelium

Filmmakers set up cameras in this forest and captured the most amazing scene. This is an excerpt from the 3D documentary feature about Paul Stamets, renowned mycologist, author and visionary, on how mushrooms can save the world.  A Film by Louie Schwartzberg.

The Beauty of Pollination

TedTalks  By Louie Schwartzburg  'The Beauty of Pollination' from Disney's film, "The Wings of Life."

  Watch this on the largest computer screen you have (HD if possible) with your sound turned on.

*The hummingbird doing rolls chasing a bee is not to be missed.
*Be sure and watch closely (around 2 min 40 sec) and check out the baby bat under its mother. 
*If you never knew what goes on in the garden when you aren't paying attention, watch this - some of the finest photography you will ever see. 

4.23 min. (Shorter version on youtube)  The Beauty of Pollination

7.36 min: (Full version on TedTalks)  The Hidden Beauty of Pollination

[Note: We've posted this beautiful film before, but it's springtime - Enjoy once more!]

Wings of Life Screening Sat. Oct. 5th at the G2 Gallery Film Festival

This coming weekend, October 4-6, The G2 Gallery will be hosting its first annual G2 Green Earth Film Festival! The festival will bring together environmentally minded filmmakers of all levels of experience – there will be screenings from proactive high school students as well as Academy Award-nominated directors, all of which focus on conservation issues.

On Saturday October 5 at 7 PM, we will be screening Wings of Life, a breathtaking documentary from Louie Schwartzberg narrated by Meryl Streep that takes an up-close look at the incredible and vital pollinators of the world. Time-lapse cinematography like that seen in Planet Earth (and actually invented by Schwartzberg) shows the beauty and intricacy of the pollination process. 
Time: 7PM
G2 Gallery
1503 Abbott Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291

Bounty of Pollination: More Than Just Honey

(The following is brought to us by CATCH THE BUZZ (Kim Flottum) Bee Culture, The Magazine of American Beekeeping, published by A.I. Root Company.) 

What Better Place Could A Beekeeper Be?

The newly established Honey and Pollination Center at the Robert Mondavi Institute of Wine and Food Sciences will be hosting its premier event at the University of California at Davis, October 27th. 

Bounty of Pollination: More than just Honey will feature award winning cinematographer Louie Schwartzberg whose film 'The Beauty of Pollination' has had well over 23 MILLION views!

Also speaking at the event will be Neal Williams, Assistant Proffesor at the University whose specialty is native crop pollinators.

Addtional speakers include: Amina Harris Executive Director of the Center; Harvinar Singh, Local Forager for Whole Foods Markets in Northern California, Julie Loke, Teaching Kitchen Educator at the Davis Food Coop and Victoria Wojcik, Associate Program Manager of the Pollinator Partnership.

A wonderful reception will follow the program with honey wine tasting, varietal honey tasting, the 2nd Annual 'Best Honey' contest, a display from shields Library and the Bohart Insect Museum and MUCH more!

For more information contact: Kim Bannister at

or go to the Mondavi Website: