A biotech company announced this week that the USDA (Department of Agriculture) granted them a conditional license for their honeybee vaccine.
The vaccine boosts the bee’s immune system to fight against American Foulbrood disease, a bacteria-based condition known to attack colonies that is caused by Paenibacillus larvae.
Critical to our food supplies, honeybees have been plagued by American Foulbrood, which until now had no safe or sustainable antidote. Previously, the only treatment method for the highly contagious disease was incinerating the bees, infected hives, and all the equipment.
Developed by Dalan Animal Health, the solution contains an inactive version of Paenibacillus larvae bacteria that is non-GMO and usable in organic agriculture.
After it is consumed by worker bees, the vaccine is then incorporated into the royal jelly, which is fed to the queen. When she ingests it, fragments of the vaccine are deposited in her ovaries.
Having been exposed to the vaccine, the developing larvae have immunity as they hatch.
“Our vaccine is a breakthrough in protecting honeybees, impacting food production on a global scale,” said Dr. Annette Kleiser, CEO of Dalan Animal Health, in a statement.
“This is an exciting step forward for beekeepers, as we rely on antibiotic treatment that has limited effectiveness and requires lots of time and energy to apply to our hives,” explained Trevor Tauzer, owner of Tauzer Apiaries and board member of the California Beekeepers Association.
“If we can prevent an infection in our hives, we can avoid costly treatments and focus our energy on other important elements of keeping our bees healthy.”
Following research that showed the efficacy of the drug, the USDA issued its conditional license for two years. Dalan, which is headquartered in Athens, Georgia—at the University of Georgia’s Innovation Hub—will distribute the vaccine on a limited basis to commercial beekeepers.
It anticipates having the vaccine, which will be manufactured in Iowa, available for purchase later this year in the U.S.