American Foulbrood – a forgotten crisis


Bees are an integral part of the way the world works. By pollination, they supply humans and animals alike with our sources of food. In a world without honey bees, none of us would survive for very long. 


However, due to climate change, honeybees have been dying at rapid rates because of a disease called American foulbrood. The disease spreads quickly through hives, and affected hives must be burned or treated with antibiotics to prevent it from spreading further. 


Recently, the USDA has approved a vaccine that could help stop the spread of American foulbrood. Biotech scientists from Georgia developed the vaccine and hope to help honeybees develop immunity against future outbreaks in order to maintain their health. 


“There are millions of beehives all over the world, and they don’t have a good health care system compared to other animals,” said Dalail Freitak for The New York Times. “Now we have the tools to improve their resistance against diseases.” 


The vaccine isn’t distributed via a tiny syringe, but rather with food fed to the queen bee. 


“The vaccine works by feeding a safe version of the American foulbrood or AFB pathogen to queen bees. University of Georgia bee expert Keith Delaplane says the queen then passes it on,” said Emily Jones for NPR. 


The queen bee passes the immunity to the larvae she hatches, effectively immunizing future generations against the disease. This development is integral to supporting the lives of honeybees, and consequently, the lives of everyone else.