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The world’s first-ever honeybee vaccine could provide a solution to rapidly declining bee populations

The vaccine is administered to the queen to ingest and it then protects her offspring from the deadly American foulbrood disease

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A bumblebee flies to a poppy flower on a field in Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, June 1, 2017.

A bumblebee flies to a poppy flower on a field in Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, June 1, 2017.

Michael Probst, Associated Press

The world’s first-ever honeybee vaccine could help bees fight devastating diseases, and the U.S. just approved the use of the vaccine.

The U.S. is extremely dependent on honeybees to pollinate food sources, and in the winter of 2018 to 2019, more than one-third of commercial bee colonies in the U.S. were wiped out due to “pesticide exposure, diseases from parasites and habitat loss,” The Guardian reported.

“One-third of the global food supply relies on pollination, and healthy commercial hives are essential to secure high crop yields,” Biotech firm Dalan, which created the vaccine, wrote in a statement.

One of the biggest threats to U.S. honeybees is a disease is called American foulbrood, and if bees are found to have the disease, there is no cure. The bees must be killed.

“Our vaccine is a breakthrough in protecting honeybees,” Annette Kleiser, chief executive of Dalan Animal Health, told The Guardian. “We are ready to change how we care for insects, impacting food production on a global scale.”

The vaccine will first be made available to commercial U.S. beekeepers, per Euronews.

How does a honeybee get vaccinated against disease?

The vaccine contains the bacteria Paenibacillus larvae and is mixed into the queen bee’s feed, which other bees bring to the queen for her to ingest.

“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,” Dalan wrote in a press release.