US approves world’s first vaccine for honeybees: Why it is required?

Vaccine for Honeybees: A vaccine that will shield honeybees from American foulbrood disease has received a conditional license from the United States Department of Agriculture(USDA). The country’s honeybee population has been declining, which are the pollinators who are responsible for a third of the world’s crop production.

first vaccine for honeybees

The first-of-its-kind vaccine for honeybees has received approval from the US government, marking a significant step toward safeguarding these important pollinators for food production.

A vaccine developed by the US biotech company Dalan Animal Health to protect honeybees from American foulbrood disease has received conditional approval from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

According to The Guardian, Dalan Animal Health CEO Annette Kleiser stated, “Our vaccine is a breakthrough in protecting honeybees.” We are prepared to alter insect care practices, which will have an effect on global food production.

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How would the vaccine safeguard honeybees and what is American foulbrood disease? Honeybees are important for what reason and their number is declining. Let us discuss this.

American foulbrood disease

According to the Agriculture Victoria website, American foulbrood (AFB) is an infectious bacterial disease that weakens and kills honeybee colonies. It is caused by the bacterium Paenibacillus larvae.

This disease cannot be cured. According to the BBC, the only way to deal with the threat is to burn the infected colony and its hives while treating the nearby colonies with antibiotics.

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In numerous regions of the United States, the disease has been detected in 25% of hives.

Keith Delaplane, an entomologist at the University of Georgia, told The Guardian, “It’s something that beekeepers can easily recognize because it reduces the larvae to this brown goo that has a rancid smell to it.”

The Guardian report went on to say that AFB, which was first discovered in the United States, has spread worldwide.

honeybee brood disease

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How does the vaccine function?

Dalan Animal Health claims that the vaccine contains inactive Paenibacillus larvae.

The vaccine, which will initially be available to commercial beekeepers, is given to worker bees by putting it in queen feed.

According to the US biotech company, it is included in the royal jelly feed that worker bees give to the queen bee. The queen bee then eats the feed and takes the vaccine fragments into her ovaries.

When the bee larvae are exposed to the vaccine, they develop immunity, which lowers the likelihood that they will die from the disease when they hatch.

According to Delaplane, who spoke with The Guardian, “the queens could be fed a cocktail within a queen candy – the soft, pasty sugar that queen bees eat while in transit.” “Fully vaccinated queens” could be advertised by queen breeders.

In a statement, board member Trevor Tauzer of the California State Beekeepers Association said that the new vaccine could be an “exciting step forward for beekeepers.”

According to the BBC, he stated, “If we can prevent an infection in our hives, we can avoid costly treatments and focus our energy on other important aspects of maintaining our bees’ health.”

Importance of bees

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that pollinators like bees, birds, and bats are responsible for approximately one third of the world’s crop production.

According to Ron Magill, a wildlife expert at Zoo Miami, “one out of every three bites of food that we eat” are directly related to a pollinator.

The Food and Drug Administration says that bees pollinate nearly 90 crops that are grown for a living.

According to the US Food and Drug Administration, the decline in pollinators will have a significant impact on the production of apples, melons, cranberries, pumpkins, squash, broccoli, and almonds.

vaccine for honeybees

Declining population

Food pollination in the United States is heavily dependent on managed honeybee colonies. However, since 2006, the USDA has observed an annual decline in honeybee colonies in the nation.

According to a study that was carried out by Anthony Nearman and Dennis van Engelsdorp from the University of Maryland, the adult honeybee’s lifespan appears to have decreased by nearly 50% over the course of the past fifty years, as reported by The Conversation.

According to the findings of a survey that was carried out by the non-profit Bee Informed Partnership, beekeepers in the United States will have lost approximately 45.5% of their managed honeybee colonies by the year 2020.

Beekeepers across the commonwealth reported 52% losses to their colonies during the winter of 2016–17.

What kills honeybees? 

The use of pesticides, diseases, parasites like Varroa mites and Nosema ceranae, and Colony Collapse Disorder—the condition in which the majority of worker bees in a colony vanish, leaving behind the queen—are some of the factors that affect the honeybee population, according to the USDA.

Bee populations are also being affected by climate change.

Extreme temperatures reduced bumblebee populations in North America and Europe, according to a 2020 Science study.

This took place as the number of parasites that kill bees rises in warmer regions.

However, not all is lost.

We can contribute to halting the decline in the bee population.

According to Marten Edwards, chair of the biology department at Muhlenberg College, “Planting flowers or even allowing patches of weeds and native plants to grow can help bolster bee populations and combat habitat loss.”

According to experts, sustaining pollinators can also be aided by incorporating native wildlife into gardens.

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