In January 2023 Dalan Animal Health announced that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) had granted a conditional license for vaccination of honeybees against American Foulbrood disease. As we explored in October 2022, American Foulbrood is a highly contagious and fatal bacterial disease. It is uncurable and has historically caused significant problems across much of the world, including the US.  

Successful data from October 

In October last year we noted that a successful collaboration between researchers had demonstrated that oral vaccination of queen bees induces protection in future generations of bees. The vaccine contained “killed whole-cell Paenibacillus larvae bacteria” and was administered into the “queen feed”. Dalan also emphasises that the vaccine is “non-GMO and can be used in organic agriculture”.  

A small step for bees; a giant leap for beekeepers 

Trevor Tauzer of Tauzer Apiaries is a board member of the California State Beekeepers association. He described this as an “exciting step forward”. 

“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.”  

For beekeepers, the burden of AFB is significant. However, the potential presented by this vaccine may make safer and easier bee management a reality. Professor Keith Delaplane of the University of Georgia predicts that soon “Queen breeders could advertise ‘fully vaccinated queens’”.  

Wider benefits  

Dr Annette Kleiser, CEO of Dalan, described the “breakthrough” vaccine amid “global population growth and changing climates”, which “increase the importance of honeybee pollination to secure our food supply”.  

“We are committed to providing innovative solutions to protect our pollinators and promote sustainable agriculture.” 

Dalan intends to distribute the vaccine on a “limited basis” to commercial beekeepers and have it available for purchase in the US in 2023.  

To learn more about the connections between natural health and human health in our One Health tracks at the World Vaccine Congress in Washington this year get your tickets now.