The first honey bee pollen has been approved by the US Department of Agriculture

The first-ever honey bee pollen has been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture 2023

The USDA offered the first conditional license of vaccine to honeybees to protect hives from American brood disease.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved the first-ever honeybee vaccine to prevent American brood, a deadly bacterial disease that can devastate honeybee colonies, officials said.

The USDA told CNN that it issued a conditional vaccine license to Diamond Animal Health, the manufacturer partnering with Dalan Animal Health, on Dec. 29. The agency said it was "its first license for a honey bee producer."

"We hope the availability of this product will aid in the prevention and treatment of American brood disease in honey bees due to their central role in U.S. agriculture (such as pollination)," the USDA said in a statement shared via email.

The USDA Agricultural Research Service describes American brood disease on its website as "one of the most widespread and most destructive honey bee brood diseases."

In a Jan. 4 statement, Dalan Animal Health, which produced the vaccine, said the primary treatment method for American brood is to burn infected bees and hives, in addition to treatment with antibiotics.

"This is an exciting step forward for beekeepers because we rely on antibiotic treatment that has limited efficacy and requires a lot of time and energy to apply to beehives," Trevor Tauzer, owner of Tauzer Apiaries and board member of the California Beekeepers Association, said in the statement. "If we can prevent infection in our hives, we can avoid costly treatments and focus our energy on other important elements of keeping bees healthy."

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Dolan CEO Annette Kleiser called the vaccine a "breakthrough in honeybee protection" in the statement.

"Global population growth and climate change will increase the importance of honey bee pollination to secure our food supply," Kleiser said in the statement. "We are poised to change how we care for insects, affecting food production on a global scale."

Unlike traditional vaccines, honey bee pollen is not injected with a syringe. Instead, it's mixed with "the queen's forage," which the worker bees eat, according to Dolan's statement. Worker bees incorporate the pollen into royal jelly, which they feed to the queen bee. Once a queen bee consumes pollen-loaded royal jelly, "parts of the pollen are deposited in her ovaries," says Dolan. Then the queen's larvae are born with immunity to the disease.

Dolan says the vaccine will be available in the United States in 2023.

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