USDA advances American foulbrood vaccination for honeybees


These pollinators are critical to agriculture with healthy commercial hives essential for securing high crop yields.

The USDA has granted a conditional license to Dalan Animal Health, Inc. for a first-in-class vaccine to protect honeybees against American Foulbrood disease caused by Paenibacillus larvae. According to Dalan Animal Health—a biotech company in Athens, Georgia, aiming to advance insect health—honeybees are plagued by American Foulbrood, with previously no safe and sustainable solution for disease prevention.

Trevor Tauzer, owner of Tauzer Apiaries and board member of the California State Beekeepers Association, noted that the vaccination is an exciting step forward for beekeepers. “We rely on antibiotic treatment that has limited effectiveness and requires lots of time and energy to apply to our hives,” he said, in a news release. “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.”

Honeybee hive

Credit: Kristen Coppock

A hive of honeybees in New Jersey.

Honeybees are a critical component of agriculture. One-third of the global food supply relies on pollination, and healthy commercial hives are essential to secure high crop yields. Overt clinical cases of American Foulbrood are notifiable in the USA and Canada, and the only treatment method relies on the incineration of bees and infected hives and equipment, according to Dalan Animal Health.

In a news release, Annette Kleiser, PhD, CEO of Dalan Animal Health, said the company is committed to providing innovative solutions to protect pollinators and promote sustainable agriculture. “Global population growth and changing climates will increase the importance of honeybee pollination to secure our food supply. Our vaccine is a breakthrough in protecting honeybees. We are ready to change how we care for insects, impacting food production on a global scale,” she added.

The vaccine is non-GMO and can be used in organic agriculture. Pivotal efficacy studies have indicated that the oral vaccine may reduce honeybee larval death associated with American Foulbrood infections caused by P larvae.

The vaccine, which contains killed whole-cell P larvae bacteria, is administered by mixing it into queen feed which is consumed by worker bees. The vaccine is incorporated into the royal jelly by the worker bees, who then feed it to the queen. She ingests it, and fragments of the vaccine are deposited in her ovaries. Having been exposed to the vaccine, the developing larvae have immunity as they hatch.

The bacterin was developed by Dalan Animal Health and is manufactured by Diamond Animal Health in Des Moines, Iowa, a subsidiary of Heska in Loveland, Colorado. “We are grateful for the help and assistance that Diamond has been able to offer, not just in manufacturing development, but also regulatory expertise,” said Kleiser.

The USDA has issued the conditional license in the first instance for 2 years. Dalan will distribute the vaccine on a limited basis to commercial beekeepers and anticipates having the vaccine available for purchase in the United States in 2023.


First-in-class honeybee vaccine receives conditional license from the USDA for veterinary biologics. News release. Dalan Animal Health. January 4, 2023. Accessed January 9, 2023.

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