This is a brief documentary about three programs in New Zealand, the UK and the US seeking to address an alarming drop in insect populations. A 2017 German study reveals some areas of the world have experienced a 75% drop in insect populations in 27 years. Entomologists blame excessive pesticide use and loss of natural habitat. The survival of the human species is totally dependent on insects, both for food crop pollination and waste decomposition.
The New Zealand program is a industrial-scale wetapunga breeding program at the Auckland zoo. The wetapunga is an enormous prehistoric locust-shaped insect dating from the dinosaur era. Once the nearly extinct wetapunga reach adolescence, they are released to special predator-free islands where there are no introduced mammals (eg rats, ferrets, stoats, etc) to eat them.
The UK program seeks out abandoned industrial sites (brown fields) to transform into insect reserves. One abandoned, these sites are rapidly reclaimed by wild vegetation. This makes them perfect for insects because the soil is totally pesticide-free.
In the US, an entomologist has invented a special microphone that can be hidden in beehives to monitor for signs of colony collapse.
More Than Honey is a documentary investigating colony collapse disorder, the mysterious condition that threatens to wipe out the global honeybee population. As the great majority of our food crops rely on bees for pollination, this would also have dire consequences for humankind.
Scientists featured in the film report that colony collapse disorder has three main causes: insecticide (neonicotinoid*) poisoning, veroa mites and “stress.” They emphasize that the European honeybee (also the sole source of the US honeybee population) has been “domesticated,” just as larger farm animals have. This domestication reduces their stress tolerance: they can no longer tolerate two day trips across the US (in trucks) the way they once did.
More Than Honey includes some fabulous footage of bees doing their elaborate wangle** dance and struggling with mite infestation and after effects of pesticide spraying.
What I found most intriguing about this documentary was learning that Africanized honeybees may be the salvation of the domestic bee population. Commonly maligned as so-called “killer bees,” African bees are good pollinators and honey producers. They are also resistant to veroa mite.
* Since More than Honey was made in 2012, the EU has placed a total ban on neonicitinoid use.
**When bees return to the hive, bees perform a special wangle dance to communicate to other bees the location of a good nectar source.
Paul Stamets – How Mushrooms Can Save Bees & Our Food Supply
Paul Stamets is a mycologist who studies the complex role played by the vast network of fungal mycelium that underlies all natural forests and grassland. As many organic gardeners are learning, deforestation and plowing, herbicides and pesticides associated with industrial agriculture are killing this mycelium. It’s in this way that important antibacterial (most antibiotics are derived from fungi) and antiviral properties are lost that are vital to both the plant and animal kingdom
Stamets first became interested in the role of fungi in bee health when he saw honeybees sucking the mycelium out of wood chips on his farm. Through subsequent research, he would learn that specific fungi contain compounds that suppress the virus carried by veroa mites – implicated in colony collapse syndrome. The same antiviral fungi are also play a role in protecting animals against zoonotic* viruses, such as bird flu and H1N1.
Stamets believes that wide scale deforestation has destroyed the fungi that bees have traditionally relied on and this is partly responsible for the 40% reduction in bee populations. He also blames deforestation for growing pandemics of zoonotic illnesses like bird flu, H1N1, MERS and possibly ebola.
In the second video, Stamets discusses his research into turkey tail mushrooms as an adjunct treatment in terminal breast cancer.
More about the successful $2.25 million National Institute of Health Study at the link below. Owing to their positive effect on the microbiome (intestinal bacteria), turkey tail mushrooms are also helpful in
Infections and inflammations of the upper respiratory tract