The vaccine will protect bees – and with that our ecosystem
Even though a lot of people don’t necessarily love honey bees (or their stingers), they play a crucial part in the food production on earth. This means that our food security heavily relies on the little creatures and currently, those same bees are in danger. But this vaccine might provide a partial solution to this problem.
The importance of bees
Bees are pollinators. This means that bees help fertilize flowers. Whenever a bee sits on a flower to collect its nectar and pollen for the bee hive, those same pollen will stick to the bees’ fur coat. These pollen come from the ‘male’ part of the flower they sit on, the bees then transfer it to the ‘female’ part of another flower. That process fertilizes the flower, causing it to produce seeds, fruits and other plants. So bees play an important part in the growth of new flowers and plants. For us humans, this is especially important when it comes to crops. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, bees and other pollinators (like birds and bats) are responsible for a third of the food that is produced in the world. Bees are a pretty big deal!
But the bees are in danger. Even though humans rely heavily on these small yellow-black insects, we also pose a danger to them. Because of our farming activities, changes in weather, pesticides and a loss of their natural habitat, the population of bees is in decline. This is not only a problem for bees, it is also a problem for all of us who rely on bees for the production of food. But humans aren’t the only threat to bees.
A disease that is fatal for bees is American foulbrood disease; a disease that can easily spread and can not be cured. When a colony is infected, the hive, the bees and the equipment needs to be burned to prevent further spreading. And because this disease easily travels from hive to hive through the use of bee keeping equipment or through infected adult bees that drift to or rob from other hives, bees could use all the protection they can get.
According to the a statement by California State Beekeepers Association reported by the BBC, the vaccine is an important step in the right direction for beekeepers everywhere. Board member Trevor Tauzer said: “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,” The vaccine will make sure that the larvae of the bees become immune to the foulbrood disease, which protects bees from this deadly and contagious disease. Annette Kleiser, chief executive of Dalan Animal Health told The Guardian: “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.”
If the bee population can overcome this threat with the new vaccin, fewer bees will die. Which is a hopeful step in the direction of protecting the earth’s ecosystem and with that, food production.
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Source: BBC, The Guardian, UNEP, FAO, NPS, Knowable, BeeAware | Image: Unsplash, Shelby Cohron