US approves first vaccine for honey bees

The United States granted a conditional license for a vaccine against honey bees .


The vaccine will be used to help fight American foulbrood disease in insects and has been approved by the Department of Agriculture, said Dalan Animal Health, the biotech company behind the vaccine .

“This is an exciting step for beekeepers as we are relying on an antibiotic treatment that has limited efficacy and requires a lot of time and energy to apply to our hives,” said Tauzer Apiaries, a board member of the Beekeepers Association of the State of California, in a statement. “If we can prevent an infection in our hives, we can avoid costly treatments and focus our energy on other important elements of keeping our bees healthy.”

a disease to fear

The disease is caused by Paenibacillus larvae , a type of bacteria that affects bee larvae . The vaccine contains some of that bacteria, and it will be mixed with royal jelly, which worker bees secrete from their heads and then feed to the queen and larvae. When the queen eats the jelly, she will ingest fragments of the vaccine that will give her offspring some immunity against the bacteria.

Infected bees and hives are often burned to stop the spread of the disease.

The vaccine is not genetically modified and can be used in organic farming, Dalan Animal Health said.

“In a perfect scenario, queens could be given a cocktail inside a queen candy — the soft, doughy sugar that queen bees eat while in transit,” Delaplane said. “Queen breeders might advertise ‘fully vaccinated queens.'”

to protect her

The US unusually relies on managed honey bee colonies to prop up pollination for its food, with hives routinely trucked across the country to propagate everything from almonds to blueberries.

This is because many wild bee species are in alarming decline due to habitat loss, pesticide use and the climate crisis, fueling concerns about a global crisis in insect numbers threatening ecosystems. and food security and human health.