The treatment from Dalan Animal Health immunizes honeybees against the fatal disease that can lead to colony collapse
A novel vaccine for American Foulbrood (AFB) in honeybees has received a conditional license and market authorization from the Canadian Center for Veterinary Biologics (CCVB) under the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The vaccine is manufactured by Dalan Animal Health of Athens, Georgia, a biotechnology company with a focus on insect health.1
The AFB vaccine received a 2-year conditional approval by the United States Department of Agriculture, Center for Veterinary Biologics in early 2023 for distribution in the American market.2 Starting in spring 2024, it will be distributed on a limited basis to commercial beekeepers in Canada, according to an organizational release.1
"One third of all crops rely on pollination, making honeybees an invaluable part of our global food supply and the health of our ecosystems," said Annette Kleiser, PhD, cofounder and CEO of Dalan Animal Health, in the release.1 "Our ability to provide the world's first honeybee vaccine to Canadian beekeepers is an exciting step in our plans to offer our effective solutions to this cornerstone species and its beekeeping stewards."
AFB is a highly virulent, fatal bacterial disease caused by Paenibacillus larvae and is considered the most devastating honeybee brood.3,4 In a lecture at the 2023 Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas, Britteny Kyle, DVM, MSc, a PhD student in epidemiology with a collaborative specialization in One Health at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario, Canada, noted the disease is transmitted through common honeybee behavior and beekeeper activities, including use of apiculture equipment. “Those [bacterial] spores are heavily persistent and resistant,” said Kyle.3
Only young larvae younger than 48 hours are susceptible to infection, according to Kyle. Nurse bees spread the disease by inadvertently contaminating the brood food.5 Because of its highly transferable nature, AFB is a global, ongoing challenge for beekeepers. If an AFB outbreak occurs, hives must be burned, quarantined, or treated with antibiotics, according to the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists.1
The efficacy of the non-GMO vaccine for AFB relies on killed whole-cell P larvae bacteria and is designed to offer protection against infection before it occurs. It is mixed it into feed eaten by worker bees, which incorporates the vaccine into the royal jelly that is fed to the queen. When the queen ingests the vaccine, fragments are deposited in her ovaries, which then provides immunity to developing larvae.1
Carol Yelle-Harris, owner of Pope Canyon Queens in Vacaville, California, produces 20,000 honeybee queens a year through her operation. She ships her queens to beekeepers across the US and throughout Canada. She noted that disease management is a substantial concern for beekeepers. "[Although] this vaccine won't solve all problems faced by our industry today, it represents a significant step in the right direction, encouraging a shift in how we prevent and tackle diseases,” she said, in the Dalan release.1
Dalan is working to develop vaccines for other honeybee diseases such as European foulbrood. The company also plans to develop vaccines for other industries that include shrimp, mealworms, and insects used in agriculture.