US approves world’s first vaccine for declining honey bees

Image credit: BBC

The first honey bee vaccine in history has received approval for use in the US.

It was developed to stop deaths from the bacterial infection known as American foulbrood disease, which weakens colonies by damaging bee larvae.

The biotech company that developed the vaccine claims that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved a provisional licence for it this week.

Bees are important pollinators and impact many different facets of ecology.

The vaccination may represent a “breakthrough in preserving honey bees,” according to Dalan Animal Health CEO Annette Kleiser.

Since 2006, honey bee colonies have been declining annually in the US, according to the USDA.

According to the USDA, a variety of occasionally converging variables, including parasites, pests, and diseases, as well as a condition known as colony collapse disorder, which happens when worker bees quit a hive and leave the queen behind, pose a threat to honey bee health.

Approximately one-third of the world’s food production is caused by pollinators like bees, birds, and bats, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.

For beekeepers, the extremely contagious and incurable American foulbrood disease presents a difficulty. The only therapy is burning the infected colony of bees, together with the hives and apparatus, and administering antibiotics to colonial bees in the neighbourhood.

The new vaccination, according to Dalan Animal Health, comprises Paenibacillus larvae, an inactive form of the bacteria that causes American foulbrood disease.

According to the biotech company, which specialises in insect health and immunology, the bacteria are integrated into the royal jelly feed that worker bees deliver to the queen bee, who subsequently ingests the feed and retains some of the vaccination in her ovaries.

According to this, there will be less mortality from the sickness, and bee larvae will be immune to it when they hatch.

California State Beekeepers Association board member Trevor Tauzer stated in a statement that the new vaccination may represent an “exciting step forward for beekeepers.”

The vaccine will likely be sold in the US this year, according to Dalan, who intends to give it to commercial beekeepers “on a restricted basis.”

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