Could the world's first bee vaccine save honeybees?

Could the world's first bee vaccine save honeybees? Edible drug can protect the insects from killer infections Designed to protect bees from American foulbrood, a bacterial disease

By Mark Prigg For Dailymail.com

Published: 20:00 GMT, 6 December 2018 | Updated: 03:02 GMT, 7 December 2018

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Scientists have revealed the first vaccine for insects, and hope it could help save the honeybee.

Called PrimeBEE, it is designed to protect bees from American foulbrood, a bacterial disease that has been wiping out entire colonies.

The vaccine, which is edible, 'protects bees from diseases while protecting global food production,' the university said.

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Called PrimeBEE, it is designed to protect bees from American foulbrood, a bacterial disease that has been wiping out entire colonies. Pictured, a colony of honeybees at the United States Department of Agriculture's Bee Research Laboratory

Called PrimeBEE, it is designed to protect bees from American foulbrood, a bacterial disease that has been wiping out entire colonies. Pictured, a colony of honeybees at the United States Department of Agriculture's Bee Research Laboratory

WHAT IS AMERICAN FOULBROOD?

American foulbrood (AFB) is a fatal bacterial disease of honey bee brood caused by the spore forming bacterium Paenibacillus larvae.  

Heavy infections can affect most of the brood, severely weakening the colony and eventually killing it. 

The disease is not able to be cured, meaning that destruction of infected colonies and hives or irradiation of infected material is the only way to manage AFB.

Although AFB is not highly contagious, bacterial spores can easily be spread between hives and apiaries through beekeeping practices such as through the exchange of equipment and movement of infected combs. 

AFB spores can remain viable for over 50 years and are very resistant to freezing and high temperatures. 

'Pollinators falling ill and dying is a serious threat to the global food economy, said Dalial Freitak, a University of Helsinki scientist who developed the vaccine.

'Even a slight improvement in their life has vast significance on a global scale,' he said. 

The goal is to protect the bees against American foulbrood, a bacterial disease caused by the spore-forming Paenibacillus larvae. 

The vaccine, which is still in development, is groundbreaking as the insects immune systems do not contain antibodies, so traditional vaccines don't work.

'Now we've discovered

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