New Vaccine Could Help Save Honey Bees

The world needs pollinators like honey bees as they play a critical role in agriculture. In fact, according to the New York Times, honey bees are responsible for the production of one-third of American agriculture alone.

Unfortunately, honey bees are on the decline. According to Green Peace, the cause of their decline is a mix of factors, largely caused by humans such as “pesticides, drought, habitat destruction, nutrition deficit, air pollution, global warming” and more. They also suffer from disease and there might be a solution to that on the horizon.

Photo: Pexels/Pixabay

According to the USDA, American foulbrood disease is “one of the most widespread and the most destructive of the honey bee brood disease.” A hive infection can cause thousands of deaths and beekeepers will often burn an entire hive if an infection is detected to prevent it from spreading.

However, there may be a better and more humane solution on the horizon. According to research published in October 2022, an oral vaccination can decrease susceptibility to American Foulbrood infection in honey bees.

Photo: Pexels/Timothy Paule II

As discovered back in 2015, bees don’t have antibodies like humans do, but they can pass on immunization through a specific protein. With that knowledge, scientists were able to create an oral vaccine against American foulbrood that could be given to the queen bee who could subsequently pass it on to her offspring.

The New York Times spoke with Annette Kleiser, chief executive of Dalan Animal Health (the company that created the vaccine). She called the vaccine a “huge breakthrough” in the agricultural and livestock industries.

Photo: Pexels/Johann Piber

She said, “Bees are livestock and should have the same modern tools to care for them and protect them that we have for our chickens, cats, dogs and so on.”

As of January 4, 2023, the vaccine received a conditional license from the USDA, according to a press release. It’ll be interesting to see what the future holds in the world of insect immunization.

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