Dozens of viruses infect honey bees in the United States, including several highly prevalent viruses that have been implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder and the general decline of bee health over the last decades. Currently, there is no treatment available to beekeepers for combatting bee viruses. Polypore fungi are long-lived wood decay fungi that produce a wide array of chemicals with antimicrobial activity. Extracts from the mycelium of these fungi were added to sugar syrup and fed to bees in a series of experiments. After initial screening of extracts with caged bees, trials with small outdoor colonies confirmed that adding mushroom extracts to bee feed significantly reduced honey bee viral levels. This year we have treated nearly 700 full-sized colonies to determine the best species, dosing, and other treatment recommendations.

Presenter: Dr. Nicholas Naeger, Washington State University

Nicholas L. Naeger is a molecular biologist and geneticist has been researching honey bees for over 15 years. From 2001 to 2005 he worked at the Ohio State University where he assisted Susan Cobey with the New World Carniolan breeding program. He then moved to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where he completed his graduate work in Entomology. His master’s thesis used time-trained foragers to identify genes involved in honey bee sleep/wake cycles, feeding activity, and memory formation. His doctoral research focused on bee brain genetics where he uncovered vastly different genetic networks in the brains of the different honey bee castes, and identified genes involved in the hard-wiring of instinctive behaviors. He has also published work on the behavior, physiology, and social structure of queenless hives with reproductive workers. Dr. Naeger is currently a post-doctoral researcher at Washington State University where he is exploring the possibilities of using fungi and fungal products to combat the many pests, parasites, and pathogens that plague honey bees.