A biotech company announced this week that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has granted them conditional approval for a honey bee vaccine.
The vaccine boosts the bee’s immune system to fight American Foulbrood, a colony-attacking bacteria-based disease caused by Paenibacillus larvae.
Vital to our food supply, honeybees are plagued by American Foulbrood, which until now has no safe or stable antidote. Previously, the only treatment for this highly contagious disease was to burn bees, infected hives and all equipment.
This solution, developed by Dalan Animal Health, contains an inactive version of Paenibacillus larvae, which is non-GMO and can be used in organic farming.
After the worker bees consume it, the vaccine is added to the royal jelly, which is given to the queen. When she eats it, fragments of the vaccine are deposited in her ovaries.
After exposure to the vaccine, the developing larvae are immune when they hatch.
“Our vaccine is a breakthrough in honey bee protection that impacts food production on a global scale,” said Dr. Annette Kleiser, CEO of Dalan Animal Health, in a statement.
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“This is an exciting step for beekeepers because we rely on antibiotic treatments that have limited effectiveness and require a lot of time and energy to apply to our hives,” explained Trevor Tauzer, owner of Tauzer’s Apiaries and board member of the California Beekeepers Association. .” .
“If we can prevent infection in our hives, we can avoid costly treatments and focus our energy on other important elements of keeping our bees healthy.”
After research that showed the effectiveness of this drug, the USDA issued a conditional license for two years. Dallan, based in Athens, Georgia – at the University of Georgia’s Innovation Center – will distribute the vaccine on a limited basis to commercial beekeepers.
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The vaccine, produced in Iowa, is expected to be available for purchase in the United States later this year.