Scientists have revealed the first vaccine for insects, and hope it could help save the honeybee.
Called PrimeBEE, it is designed to protect bees from American foulbrood, a bacterial disease that has been wiping out entire colonies.
The vaccine, which is edible, ‘protects bees from diseases while protecting global food production,’ the university said.
‘Pollinators falling ill and dying is a serious threat to the global food economy, said Dalial Freitak, a University of Helsinki scientist who developed the vaccine.
‘Even a slight improvement in their life has vast significance on a global scale,’ he said.
The goal is to protect the bees against American foulbrood, a bacterial disease caused by the spore-forming Paenibacillus larvae.
The vaccine, which is still in development, is groundbreaking as the insects immune systems do not contain antibodies, so traditional vaccines don’t work.
‘Now we’ve discovered the mechanism to show that you can actually vaccinate them.
‘You can transfer a signal from one generation to another,’ Freitak said.
The disease is the ‘most widespread and destructive of the bee brood diseases,’ the university added.