The Department of Agriculture recently granted a conditional license for a vaccine to protect the country’s honeybees from foulbrood disease.  The vaccine was developed by Dalan Animal Health, a small biotech company working primarily on bee diseases.


“American foulbrood is caused by a bacteria called, Paenibacillus larvae, and it kills the developing larva in honey bees," noted Amy Floyd, field technician and beekeeper relations for Dalan Animal Health.  "And it's really contagious and can be really deadly when you have an infected hive and right now there aren't any treatment for it. Antibiotics are used sometimes to suppress it, but really the only effective method is to is burning hives so this is the first treatment specifically for AFB.”


Floyd said the disease is a spore-forming bacteria, which can spread really fast. Primarily it infects the larvae and then the worker bees feeding them spreading throughout the hive and eventually to others.  To build the larvae's immunity, Floyd said the queen is vaccinated before she goes into the hive with some of the bacteria in a jelly, fed to her by worker bees.


“Workers actually eat that vaccinated candy and then they feed it to Queen. And those vaccine particles work their way through the queen into her ovaries and then when she lays eggs those vaccine particles are also present prime those larvae and expose them to that before they hatch. So when they are brand new baby larva in the hive, they are primed and ready to fight against NAFB if they are exposed to it.”


Floyd said the vaccine should be available in the spring of this year.  Beekeepers can learn more by visiting Dalan's Website.


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