Bees use mushroom fungus to protect colony

Honey bees make a quick pharmacy stop on our farm’s used Turkey Tail mushrooms (March 2015).

Last year, I noticed honey bees coming and going from our compost bin of organic mushrooms we use to make extracts and thought I had a swarm problem. On closer look, I discovered they were nibbling on our used mushrooms and then flying away.

Understanding that bees eat pollen and nectar, I suspected they were up to something entirely different. I suspected they were self-medicating on residual compounds found on Turkey Tail (Trametes Versicolor) and Red Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) mushrooms left over from our extraction process.

As scientists are now discovering, that may very well be the case. A scientist at the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation recently discovered that the Brazilian stingless bee uses fungus to protect larvae food stores from spoiling.

He and his team discovered that the fungus is a key part of the hive. It permeates the cerumen, a material made of wax and resin that the bees use as building material. After the bees have deposited regurgitated food for the larvae inside the cells, and laid an egg, the fungus starts growing.

Once the egg hatches, the larva feeds on the fungus, and it turns out this food is absolutely crucial. When the team tried to grow the bees in the lab without the fungus, the survival rate of the larvae dropped dramatically – from 72 per cent to just 8 per cent.

This Summer, self-taught mycologist Paul Stamets began working with Steve Sheppard, a bee expert at Washington State University, to test various wood decaying mushrooms on honey bees. They are finding promising results that could lead to ways of treating colonies for parasitic mites and other infections at the heart of troubling colony collapse disorder.

As other scientists are now discovering what I also observed, it may be that bees are already doing it themselves. Understanding what they are doing and why could help us understand more about the medicinal value of mushrooms and lead to both a re-evaluation of our use of fungicides and important life-saving discoveries for humans as well as bees.

Available now: You don’t have to be a bee-in-the-know to take advantage of these important mushrooms. Half Hill Farm makes organic mushroom extracts with USDA certified organic mushrooms, USDA certified organic pharmaceutical grade USP alcohol, and distilled water.

Read several studies showing what scientists are discovering about extracts of these mushrooms and what they can do now for your better health & well-being.

Red Reishi extract reverses obesity by altering gut bacteria

A new study of liquid dual extracts of Red Reishi mushrooms (Ganoderma Lucidum) published this Summer shows a reversal of obesity related symptoms by altering the balance of good and bad gut bacteria.

“Mice kept on a high-fat diet gained up to 25 percent more than mice kept on the same diet with extracts from the Reishi mushroom,” said David Ojcius, a microbiologist at the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry in San Francisco who participated in the study, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications. Consumption of Reishi mushroom extract with high-fat food prevented the development of fat tissue, gut inflammation and buildup of harmful bacteria in the bloodstream — all symptoms of obesity in both mice and humans.

The study also shows an adaptogenic effect, meaning the liquid mushroom extracts slimmed down overweight mice only, not mice with healthy weights. Prebiotic uses of this medicinal fungi builds on research that increasingly points to a balance of gut bacteria addressing overall health and well-being, including obesity.

An early hint that gut microbes might play a role in obesity came from studies comparing intestinal bacteria in obese and lean individuals. In studies of twins who were both lean or both obese, researchers found that the gut community in lean people was like a rain forest brimming with many species but that the community in obese people was less diverse—more like a nutrient-overloaded pond where relatively few species dominate.

Nature’s Remedy: Half Hill Farm has created a high quality Red Reishi dual extract using USDA certified organic ganoderma lucidum, USDA certified organic USP pharmaceutical-grade alcohol and distilled water. You can purchase our Red Reishi Mushroom Dual Extract in 100 ml (3.38 oz.) or 200 ml (6.76 oz.) bottles.

DISCLAIMER: Please consult your physician before using any of our products for health purposes. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. 

Half Hill Farm among Tennessee’s first to grow hemp

Industrial hemp grows on Half Hill Farm in Woodbury, TN

(Woodbury, TN) — Half Hill Farm is the first USDA certified organic farm in Tennessee to grow legal hemp. The state legalized hemp last year despite decades of federal prohibition under the Controlled Substance Act. Growing hemp requires a background check and permit from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.

Half Hill Farm grows several hundred plants in a pilot partnership with a co-op of farms under Tennessee Hemp Farm. Using various farm methods, participating farms hope to learn how much seed and fiber production they can expect from a plant not grown legally in the United States since the 1950s.

“My guess is hemp will grow just fine here in Cannon County,” said Half Hill Farm’s Christian Grantham. “The exciting part for us is what can be done with it.”

While industrial hemp contains little to none of the psychoactive ingredient THC, hemp seeds produce the highest omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids of any grain. Milled seed is an excellent source of oil and plant protein, and hemp is one of the world’s most renewable sources of industrial fiber.

“It won’t be long before you start seeing several Tennessee products made with hemp grown and processed right here,” Grantham said. ”As part of our farm’s mission, we can’t wait to share the health benefits of hemp through value added products.”

In the mid 1800s, Tennessee farms reported growing over 2,200 tons of cannabis using it to make rope and industrial canvas used in boat sails and to bag cotton harvests. According to state records, production fell with competition from other states.

Growing commercial hemp is still illegal under federal law. Permitted farms in Tennessee work closely with state and federal authorities under new farm rules for states that legalize hemp or recreational & medical marijuana.

Under state law, farms growing hemp can sell hemp fiber or viable hemp seed to a manufacturer and value added products direct to consumers. The first hemp crops in Tennessee will harvest in late September.

Learn more:

Nature’s remedy: organic Red Reishi mushroom dual extract

Ganoderma Lucidum dual extract

Half Hill Farm is dedicated to sustainable farm practices that reflect our deep commitment to being good stewards of our planet and our general well being.

In keeping with our mission, our organic Red Reishi Mushroom Dual Extracts are now made with USDA certified organic pharmaceutical grade (USP) alcohol. We use a hot water and alcohol extraction process with a 10 micron filtration and bottle at our Woodbury, TN farm in premium Miron ultra-violet glass bottles. Combined with our USDA certified organic Ganoderma lucidum mushrooms and distilled water, our extract provides a full spectrum of beneficial compounds as clean as nature intended.

Red Reishi mushrooms are known in ancient medicine as the “Mushroom of Immortality” used in a wide range of folk remedies. Recent studies find extracted polysaccharides, triterpenes and other compounds from this mushroom have significant anti-tumor, anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties as well as the ability to reduce inflammation and modulate immune responses.

This powerful extract has a natural bitter taste that blends well with coffee or tea. We use a 10 micron filtration that keeps smaller spore and beneficial compounds that appear as suspended filaments in the bottled extract.

Many people prescribed long-term medications or antibiotics, or with chronic illnesses, use this extract in conjunction with or as an alternative to treatments. Often taken in tea or coffee, this extract is also used as natural remedies for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hypertension, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and conditions associated with: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Lyme Disease, Morgellons, Babesia, Bartonella, Ehrlichia, Mycoplasma, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and AIDS/HIV.

Here are links to some research on extracted compounds from Red Reishi (Ganoderma Lucidum) mushrooms:

DISCLAIMER: Please consult your physician before using any of our products for health purposes. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. 

RECIPE: Shiitake mushroom soup


A 5 lbs. mid-Winter harvest of organic Shiitake mushrooms from Half Hill Farm.

Once your Shiitake logs from Half Hill Farm start producing mushrooms, you can dry them, store some in the fridge for a couple weeks, or eat them! That’s exactly what we did using the following recipe and an unexpected January harvest.

There’s a lot you can do with your Shiitake mushrooms and a lot of good stuff it will do for you. One recent study, for example, shows medicinal compounds in Shiitake mushrooms can eradicate HPV, a virus that causes 99% of all cervical cancer, 95% of anal cancer, 60% of oropharyngeal cancer, 65% of vaginal cancer, 50% of vulvar cancer, and 35% of penile cancer. Here’s more research on this and other mushrooms we grow, and here’s our recipe for how to make some Pho-tastic Shiitake mushroom soup.

Shiitake Mushroom Soup

  • 2 cups chopped Shiitake mushrooms
  • cubed tofu
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 4 tbsps of fresh grated ginger
  • chives
  • cilantro
  • 4 cups chopped Napa cabbage
  • rice noodles (or rice & quinoa)
  • 8 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
  • soy sauce (or Bragg’s) & lemon to flavor

You can use either rice noodles or a little rice and quinoa. Either way, cook these first and set them aside. You won’t need much – about a total of half a cup if using rice/quinoa.

Put a little olive oil in the soup pot you plan to use and cook your cubed tofu. When complete, stir-fry the chopped garlic cloves and ginger with the cooked tofu. This takes a couple minutes. Now add the broth, mushrooms and either noodles or rice/quinoa. Let this simmer for 20 minutes and then add the Napa cabbage and let simmer for five more minutes before serving.

Place a little chopped cilantro and chives in a bowl and fill the bowl with soup. Add a generous squirt of soy sauce or Bragg’s and a squeeze of a couple lemon wedges and enjoy!