The United States Department of Agriculture has approved a vaccine for honeybees, the first approval of its kind, to help prevent the destruction of colonies, according to CNN. The vaccine co-manufacturer says population growth and climate change have accelerated the necessity for a new vaccine.
The vaccine is to prevent the historically incurable American foulbrood disease, a bacterial spore that can infect even the strongest members of a colony, which often results in destruction of the entire honeybee colony. The USDA calls it one of the most widespread and destructive diseases of the species.
The USDA told CNN this was the “first licensure of a honeybee product,” issuing a vaccine license to Diamond Animal Health. Bloomberg describes the Iowa company as offering "lab systems, allergy testing, supplements, diagnostics," and other services.
“We hope the availability of this product will aid in the prevention and/or treatment of the disease American Foulbrood in honeybees given their central role in American agriculture (e.g. pollination),” the USDA said in a written statement to CNN.
Dalan Animal Health, the co-manufacturer of the vaccine, called it "a breakthrough in protecting honeybees."
"We are ready to change how we care for insects, impacting food production on a global scale,” CEO Dr. Annette Kleiser said in a statement.
"Global population growth and changing climates will increase the importance of honeybee pollination to secure our food supply," she mentioned.
The vaccine is administered by mixing it into queen feed, which is consumed by worker bees.
It is then "incorporated into the royal jelly by the worker bees, who then feed it to the queen."
A beekeeper's association said that the vaccine can help avoid costly treatments and help focus energies on other important elements of the job.
“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,” said a board member of the California State Beekeepers Association.
Dalan Animal Health secured $3.55M in a final seed-funding round in September 2022 from a venture capital group and a veterinary funding network. Two rounds of funding brought the company's total to $5.5M, at which point it completed its submission for a conditional vaccine license from the USDA.
Dalan Animal Health is described as a biotech company pioneering insect health.