US Approves World’s First Vaccine For Declining Honey Bees

Technology /

The US has approved use of the world’s first vaccine for honey bees. The BBC reports: The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved a conditional license for the vaccine this week, according to the biotech firm behind its development. It was engineered to prevent fatalities from American foulbrood disease, a bacterial condition known to weaken colonies by attacking bee larvae. […] American foulbrood disease poses a challenge for beekeepers as it is highly contagious and has no cure. The only treatment method requires burning the colony of infected bees along with the hives and equipment and treating nearby colonies with antibiotics.

The new vaccine contains an inactive version of the bacteria that causes American foulbrood disease, Paenibacillus larvae, according to Dalan Animal health. The bacteria are incorporated into royal jelly feed given by worker bees to the queen bee, which then ingests the feed and keeps some of the vaccine in her ovaries, according to the biotech firm, which specializes in insect health and immunology. It says this gives bee larvae immunity to the disease as they hatch and reduces death from the illness. […] Dalan plans to distribute the vaccine “on a limited basis” to commercial beekeepers and said the product would probably be available for purchase in the US this year.

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