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Saturday, January 14, 2023

The US has approved the world’s first vaccine to protect honey bees

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Gaston de Persigny
Gaston de Persigny
Gaston de Persigny - Reporter at The European Times News

The world’s first honey bee vaccine has been approved for use by the US government, raising hopes for a new weapon against the diseases that regularly ravage colonies that are relied on to pollinate food.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued a license for a vaccine created by Dalan Animal Health, an American biotech company, to protect honey bees from the American foulbrood disease, the Guardian reports.

Our vaccine is a breakthrough in honey bee protection,” said Annette Claeser, CEO of Dalan Animal Health. “We are poised to change the way we care for insects, impacting food production worldwide.” The vaccine, which will initially be available to commercial beekeepers, is intended to curb blight, a serious disease caused by the bacterium Paenibacillus larvae that can weaken and kill hives.There is currently no cure for the disease, which in some parts of the U.S. found in a quarter of hives. This requires beekeepers to destroy and burn all infected colonies and administer antibiotics to prevent further spread. “It’s something beekeepers can easily recognize because it turns the larvae into a brown slime with a foul smell smell,” says Keith Delaplan, an entomologist at the University of Georgia who co-authored the vaccine’s development. The vaccine works by including a portion of bacteria they in the royal jelly that the worker bees feed to the queen, who then ingests it and gets some of the vaccine in her ovaries. The developing bee larvae then gain immunity to blight when they hatch, which Dalan’s studies show will reduce mortality from the disease.

“Ideally, queens could be fed a cocktail in queen candy—a soft, pasty sugar that queens eat during transport,” says Delaplan. “Queen breeders could advertise ‘fully vaccinated queens.’

American rot originated in the United States and has since spread throughout the world. The breakthrough could be used to find vaccines for other bee-related diseases, such as the European version of blight. As bees are commercialized, transported and used in agriculture, they are exposed to a cocktail of different diseases that usually wipe out large numbers of bee colonies and require serious intervention by beekeepers to maintain their numbers. The US is unusually dependent on managed bee colonies to help pollinate food crops, with hives regularly trucked across the country to breed everything from almonds to blueberries. This is because many wild bee species are in dangerous decline due to habitat loss, pesticide use and the climate crisis, fueling fears of a global crisis in insect numbers, threatening ecosystems and food security and human health.

Photo by Pixabay:

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