The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has granted a conditional license for a vaccine for honeybees to combat American foulbrood (AFB), a deadly bacterial disease.
- The vaccine, developed by biotechnology company Dalan Animal Health, is the first of its kind and offers hope for a new way to protect honeybees from diseases that can devastate their colonies. AFB is caused by the bacterium Paenibacillus larvae and cannot be cured, so the only way to manage it is by destroying infected colonies or hives or irradiating infected material.
How the Vaccine Works:
- The vaccine works by exposing queen bees to inactive bacteria, which enables the larvae hatched in the hive to resist infection. The vaccine is mixed in queen candy, which is consumed by the worker bees. It is then transferred to the glands that produce royal jelly, which is fed to the queen bee.
- The queen digests the royal jelly and the vaccine is transferred to her ovaries. The vaccine is then transferred to the developing eggs and the developing larvae are vaccinated and more immune to infection as they hatch. Tests have shown that the immune priming had no negative impact on queen fitness or on honey.
Benefits of the Vaccine:
- The vaccine offers a chemical-free, non-GMO, and organic solution for protecting honeybees from AFB. It has the potential to significantly impact food production on a global scale, as honeybees are critical to pollinating up to 95 crops in the US.
- The vaccine could also potentially be used to protect against other diseases that affect honeybees, such as European foulbrood and Chalkbrood, a fungal disease.
Threats to Honeybees:
- Honeybee populations are declining rapidly due to habitat loss, pesticide use, and the climate crisis. This decline has serious implications not just for the production of honey, but also for the pollination of crops that relies on honeybees. The development of a vaccine for honeybees could help to address this decline and protect these vital insects.
- The conditional license granted by the USDA means that the vaccine can now be used on a limited basis while further testing and data collection is completed.
- Dalan Animal Health is working on vaccines for European foulbrood and Chalkbrood, which could also help to protect honeybees from these diseases. It is important to continue researching and developing solutions to protect honeybees and address the decline in their populations.
The development of a vaccine for American foulbrood is a promising step towards protecting honeybees from this deadly disease. The vaccine is chemical-free, non-GMO, and organic and has the potential to significantly impact food production on a global scale. While further testing and data collection is needed, the conditional license granted by the USDA allows for limited use of the vaccine while this process is completed. It is important to continue exploring ways to protect honeybees and address the decline in their populations, including the development of vaccines for other diseases that affect these insects.
Written by IAS POINT