An American startup is one step closer to introducing the world’s first vaccine for honeybees after receiving the go-ahead from officials.
Georgia-based biotech enterprise Dalan Animal Health announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) had approved a conditional licence for the vaccine.
The company – which garnered more than USD five million (EUR 4.75 million from different funding associations – has vowed to fight American foulbrood (AFB), a fatal bacterial disease affecting honeybee brood.
AFB is caused by a spore-forming bacterium which is extremely resistant to freezing and high temperatures. It has hit hives in numerous regions all over the globe.
Severe outbreaks can lead to the death of the majority of a brood. The whole colony is seriously weakened by such incidents and can eventually die.
Dalan Animal Health said the illness – which is highly contagious – was “among the most devastating of bacterial infections” affecting bees.
The company claimed the anti-AFB substance – an inactive version of the bacteria which is introduced into the royal jelly fed to the queen – could be a “breakthrough” in protecting the important pollinators.
It revealed that the vaccine would probably go on sale in the United States later this year.
Prof Keith Delaplane from the University of Georgia, Athens, has been involved in the creation of the edible anti-AFB substance.
Speaking to the Savannah Morning News, the renowned entomologist explained that, when affected by AFB, the colour of the pupa would change from a shiny white to a “chocolate brown, stinking wad of goo.”
Prof Delaplane added that it would develop a “distinctly recognisable” stench.
Trevor Tauzer is a professional beekeeper from Northern California. The owner of Tauzer Apiaries and California State Beekeepers Association board member called the immunisation endeavour an “exciting step forward for beekeepers.”
Trevor said: “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.”