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The groundbreaking vaccine aims to limit the damage to bee colonies caused by foulbrood.

The disease, for which there is currently no cure, develops from the bacterium Paenibacillus larvae, which can weaken and destroy colonies. It is the most severe, problematic and challenging of all the diseases that may affect a colony.

In some areas of the US, the disease has affected one in four hives. Beekeepers are forced to dismantle and burn any infected colonies and use antibiotics to limit the spread.

There are millions of beehives all over the world, and they don’t have a good health care system compared to other animals.

Now, a pioneering vaccine hopes to quell the disastrous effects of foulbrood disease.

Before you start imagining a tiny syringe being inserted into a bee (which is exactly what I imagined for the illustration), the vaccine which contains dead versions of Paenibacillus larvae, the bacterium that causes American foulbrood — comes in the form of food. The vaccine is incorporated into royal jelly, a sugar feed given to queen bees. Once they ingest it, the vaccine is then deposited in their ovaries, giving developing larvae immunity as they hatch.

“Our vaccine is a breakthrough in protecting honeybees,” said Annette Kleiser, chief executive of Dalan Animal Health. “We are ready to change how we care for insects on a global scale.”

Source: New York Times