New Vaccine Protects Bees From Bacterial Diseases

Honey Bees
( Sonja Begemann )

Declining bee populations have topped news for several years. While there are many factors that lead to bee death, and questions around what causes colony collapse, scientists have discovered how to build resistance against disease in bee DNA.

PrimeBEE fights severe microbial diseases and is the first vaccine for honey bees and other pollinators. It was invented by Dalial Freitak and Heli Salmela at University of Helsinki. It works when the queen bees eat something with the PrimeBEE pathogen which is then carried into the queen’s eggs to induce future immune responses.

The vaccine targets American foulbrood, a bacterial disease that is the most widespread bee brood disease. While the vaccine is tested in labs, others are working to launch a commercial business to get the product to beekeepers. Sara Kangaspeska, head of innovation at Helsinki Innovation Services, is leading the business launch.

“Commercialization has been a target for the project from the beginning,” Kangaspeska said in a recent press release. “PrimeBEE is a great example of an innovation maturing towards a true commercial seed ready to be spun-out from the university soon.”