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USDA approves 'honeybee vaccine' to treat deadly hive bacteria

Treatment for virus usually involves burning valuable hives.

Published: January 6, 2023 12:55pm

Updated: January 6, 2023 1:06pm

The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week gave a green light to what is being hailed as the world's first vaccine for honeybees, one meant to treat a deadly bacterial scourge that can easily wipe out valuable bee nests. 

Biotech firm Dalan Animal Health said in a press release this week that the USDA "granted a conditional license for vaccination of honeybees against American Foulbrood disease caused by Paenibacillus larvae."

Foulbrood disease "is a fatal bacterial disease of honey bee brood caused by the spore forming bacterium Paenibacillus larvae," advocacy group BeeAware says on its website. Major infections of the bacteria "can affect most of the brood, severely weakening the colony and eventually killing it." 

Dalan said in its release that the "only treatment method" of infection aside from the vaccine "relies on the incineration of bees and infected hives and equipment." Dalan CEO Annette Kleiser called the vaccine "a breakthrough in protecting honeybees. We are ready to change how we care for insects, impacting food production on a global scale."

Experts regularly point to bees as one of the single most important sources of crop security in the world, with bee pollinators helping to grow as much as 1/3 of all the world's crops.

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