Vaccinating Bees

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released new information that a vaccine has been successfully produced to protect bees against disease. Disease can spread in a beehive  as quickly as three weeks, which can kill the entire hive. This vaccine is the first-ever vaccine for insects. One-third of the world’s food supply relies on pollination, because of this, it’s imperative that the bee population, instead of declining, begins to grow. 

American foulbrood (AFB) is a bacterial brood disease that infects honeybee larvae. Although this disease only attacks the hive larvae, AFB will weaken the colony and can lead to the death of the entire colony. Beekeepers all over the world are extremely overjoyed with the step forward this vaccine is acting as. Trevor Tauzer, owner of Tauzer Apiaries and board member of the California State Beekeepers Association, said in a prepared 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.”

“The vaccine, which contains killed whole-cell Paenibacillus larvae bacteria, is given by mixing it into queen feed, which is consumed by worker bees. The vaccine is incorporated into the royal jelly by the worker bees, who then feed it to the queen”, according to Dalan Animal Health. After the queen eats it, fragments are sent to her ovaries, so the larvae have immunity as they hatch. The vaccine is non-GMO and can be used in organic farming. It’s being manufactured by Diamond Animal Health in Des Moines, Iowa.

The hope for this vaccine is that the bee population can rise and begin to thrive again, otherwise the ecosystem could be harshly affected. The company said its vaccine will be distributed on a limited basis to commercial beekeepers and available for purchase in the U.S. this year.

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