World’s First Vaccine to Save Honeybees Developed
Vitamin-rich fruits such as apples, tomatoes and citruses won’t deliver a crop without pollination by the bees, making them essential for the ecosystem. 
Vitamin-rich fruits such as apples, tomatoes and citruses won’t deliver a crop without pollination by the bees, making them essential for the ecosystem. (Photo: iStockphoto)

World’s First Vaccine to Save Honeybees Developed

The number of honeybees dying every year is accelerating due to climate change, pesticides, disappearing habitats and poor nutrition. Since they play a crucial role as pollinator of crops, these deaths are alarming for the future of agricultural diversity.

Scientists at the University of Helsinki seemed to have found a way to bring down the number of such deaths by developing an edible vaccine that can work against microbial infections.

As reported in the Bloomberg, the first such vaccine inoculates bees against American foulbrood, a disease that can kill entire colonies. There is even hope that this technology may help fight fungal diseases and future bacterial infections in the future.

We might be right now at a tipping point, without even realizing it. We’ve been taking the pollination services for granted for so long. These insects are not there, they are disappearing.
Dalial Freitak, Lead Scientist of the project

How Does It Work?

A sugar patty is injected with the vaccine and kept in the hive for the queen to consume over seven-ten days. After she ingests the pathogens, an immune response is generated in her offspring, thus giving way to an inoculated hive.

Freitak added that the vaccine still needs work and that scientists must ensure its safety for the environment and the bees themselves, before making it commercially available.

While yields for potatoes, rice, wheat, and other crops that don’t need pollination may also benefit from more bees, vitamin-rich fruits such as apples, tomatoes and citruses won’t deliver a crop without them, Freitak said.

Also Read : 2.0, Birds, Bees, Health and Radiation: What Does Science Say?

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