Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for October 7th, 2018

A New Study Shows How Mushrooms Could Save Bees. (Yes, Mushrooms.)

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Jackie Flynn Mogensen writes in Mother Jones:

e stuff of science fiction. Back in 2006, beekeepers first noticed their honeybees were mysteriously dying off in huge numbers, with no clear cause. For some, a whopping 30 to 90 percent of their colonies were disappearing, especially on the East Coast. Worker bees were abandoning their queens and leaving hives full of honey. That first winter, beekeepers nationwide lost about a third of their colonies. Since then, the numbers haven’t improved.

Researchers now call this ongoing phenomenon “colony collapse disorder,” but scientists still haven’t identified a singular cause. They say it’s a combination of factors: pollution, habitat loss, herbicides, and viruses, though some experts believe viruses may be the primary driver. For instance, “deformed wing virus,” which causes bees to develop disfigured, nonfunctional wings, can be nasty, and, like other viruses, is transferred to bees by parasitic mites. Until now, scientists haven’t developed any antiviral treatments to protect the bees.

But in a landmark study published Thursday in Nature journal Scientific Reports, researchers revealed they’ve discovered the first-ever “vaccine” for bees, procured from an unexpected source: mushrooms. Specifically, it’s mycelia—cobweb-like fungal membranes found in and on soil—from two species, “tinder fungus” and Red Reishi mushrooms.

“Up until this discovery, there were no antivirals reducing viruses in bees,” Paul Stamets, the lead author on the study, tells Mother Jones. “Not only is this the first discovery, but these extracts are incredibly potent.” Stamets is a Washington-based mycologist and author whose work includes books Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save The WorldGrowing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms, and Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World. Stamets also holds patents “pertaining to the use of fungal extracts for antiviral activity and honeybee health,” according to the study.

This giant discovery actually has very humble origins. Decades before colony collapse hit the United States, Stamets says he had noticed bees in his own yard feeding off water droplets on the mushrooms that were growing on wood chips in his garden. They had pushed the wood chips aside to expose the mycelium. At the time, he thought they might be getting sugars from the fungi, and it wasn’t until about five years ago—after researching the antiviral properties of fungi for humans—that he made the connection to viruses affecting bees. “I had this waking dream, ‘I think I can save the bees,’” he says.

In collaboration with researchers from Washington State University, Stamets decided to conduct a two-part study to test his theory that fungi could treat the viruses in honeybees. First, in a controlled, caged experiment, he and his team added small amounts of mushroom extract, or “mycelial broth,” to the bees’ food (sugar water) at varying concentrations and measured how it affected their health. Then, they tested the best-performing extracts in the field.

The extracts worked better than Stamets ever imagined.

The team measured the virus levels in 50 bees from 30 different field colonies and found the bee colonies that consumed the mycelium extracts saw up to a 79-fold decrease in deformed wing virus after 12 days and up to a 45,000-fold reduction in Lake Sinai virus (another virus linked to colony collapse) compared to the bees that only ate sugar water.

“We went out of the laboratory, into the field—real-life field tests,” says Stamets. “And we saw enormous benefit to the bees.”

So what’s going on here? Stamets says the operating hypothesis is this: “These aren’t really antiviral drugs. We think they are supporting the immune system to allow natural immunity to be strong enough to reduce the viruses.” More research, he says, is needed to fully understand how the fungi are working.

Diana Cox-Foster, a research leader and entomologist at the USDA’s Pollinating Insects Research Unit in Utah who was not involved in the study, tells Mother Jones the research looked “promising” and adds that it could have ramifications for other pollinators, like bumblebees. “These viruses are widely shared,” she says. “If we could knock down viruses in honeybee colonies, it could lead to greater health in other pollinators.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 October 2018 at 11:14 am

Orange for Thanksgiving

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A Sunday shave because it’s Thanksgiving weekend and today is Dinner Day, so I wanted to look sharp. Still got the pleasure of shaving a two-day stubble by skipping yesterday’s shave.

Mystic Water’s Orange Vanilla shave stick produced an excellent lather, thanks to the Rooney Style 3 Size 1. The Mystic Water site notes:

All of our shaving soap is made with tallow, which contributes to an exceptionally dense, slick lather.  Combined with stearic acid, unrefined shea butter, sustainably sourced organic palm oil, avocado oil, aloe vera, bentonite clay, silk protein, allantoin, and extra glycerin, Mystic Water shaving soap offers exceptional protection, glide and post-shave skin care, excellent for even sensitive skin and tough beards.  Many of my shaving soaps also include lanolin, and I use both botanical essential oils and high quality fragrances in my soap.  See the descriptions of individual soaps below for more details.

And the description on that page of Orange Vanilla shaving soap:

Sweet orange and tangerine peel essential oils blended with Madagascar vanilla.  The soap turns brown due to the vanilla content.  Essential oil, fragrance and lanolin.

My soap has turned a sort of tan, and (as I said) the lather is excellent. She also offers an orange spice shaving soap—I’m thinking Constant Comment tea.

The iKon X3 is an excellent razor for me, here mounted on a UFO handle, and three passes achieved perfect smoothness, to which I applied a good splash of Royall Mandarin.

Great way to start the day. Now I’m putting in 4.5 lbs of yams to roast for Bourbon Yams, my contribution to the dinner.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 October 2018 at 11:00 am

Posted in Shaving

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