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World’s First Vaccine for Honeybees

The world’s first vaccine for honeybees has been approved for use by the US government, raising hopes of a new weapon against diseases that routinely ravage colonies that are relied upon for food pollination.

Honeybee pollinating a flower

The US Department of Agriculture has granted a conditional license for a vaccine created by Dalan Animal Health, a US biotech company, to help protect honeybees from American foulbrood disease.

“Our vaccine is a breakthrough in protecting honeybees,” said Annette Kleiser, chief executive of Dalan Animal Health. “We are ready to change how we care for insects, impacting food production on a global scale.”

The vaccine, which will initially be available to commercial beekeepers, expects to curb foulbrood. So, how do you give a vaccine to bees? It works by incorporating some of the vaccine into the royal jelly fed by worker bees to the queen, which then ingests it and gains some of the medicine in the ovaries. The developing bee larvae then have immunity to foulbrood as they hatch, with studies by Dalan demonstrating that this will ultimately reduce death rates.

American foulbrood originated in the US, and has since spread around the world. Dalan said the breakthrough could be used to find vaccines for other bee-related diseases, such as the European version of foulbrood.



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