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Berks and Schuylkill Beekeepers Association - Photo of the natural vaccination of a queen's the her bee offspring

Queen Bees Create Vaccines for Their Young!

08 Aug 15
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Photo Credit: Sabine Deviche Photo

Queen Bees Create Vaccines for Their Young!

Berks and Schuylkill Beekeepers Association - Bee eggs in the hive

Queen Bees Create Vaccines for Their Young!Scientist now understand, Queen Bees instinctively vaccinate their young bees in the birth process. It was great when scientists first invented vaccinations for our young children, we were happy, except for some of the side effects. The scientist were praised for these great tools they provided to help our children to be healthier. We were also thrilled our children would not have suffer with same illnesses we did as children and our parents before us! A recent article by Robert Gebelhoff, of the Washington Post, provided some great information written to help getting the information out about bees vaccinating their young naturally.

Recently, there was a team of international scientists who recently found while studying proteins in the blood of bees they were being vaccinated by their queen. Researchers now believe they could create a vaccine for insects using a natural food source. To help them even further fend off enemies who could be killing the bees.

With human vaccines a small amount of the bacteria, virus or pathogen is introduced to the vaccine. With bees, it is essentially the same process but this vaccine is provided naturally and instinctively by the queen. This allows the immune system of the bees to come up with a natural tool to fight the pathogen. The queen gives birth to the entire colony within the hive, whether it is a wild or a domestic hive. The life span of a worker bee is about five or six weeks.  Drones, die once they mate and other drones are kept for just a season in case a queen needs to be replaced and mating is necessary for the new queen. Approaching the Fall season, the drones are driven from the hive to die.

Berks and Schuylkill Beekeepers Association - Beebread up close used to keep bees fed especially in the winterThe queen spends all her life laying eggs and resting in her nest. There are attendant bees who take care of the queen and they also feed the queen bringing her royal jelly, beebread, pollen and nectar. This food typically, has pathogens within the food and there are also pathogen within the hive.  The queen bee takes in these pathogens and they are broken down into her gut. There are pieces of pathogens introduced to this food in the gut and these are transferred to the queen’s fat body. Seventy to eighty percent of the tissue weight of the queen is fat body, which contains protein, carbohydrates and fat globules. These pathogens and the food are transformed into a protein called vitellogenin. The vitellogenin is delivered through the queen’s blood stream to the eggs.

Scientist have just recently determined vitellogenin is the carrier of these immune-priming (a substance to prepare something for use) signals.  When the larvae are born, they are already immune to the pathogens existing in the hive, which will save their lives. We are happy for anything to help save a bee!  Everything about bees truly amazes me and this is no different, just another fascinating fun fact about how bees survive.

Unfortunately, there are deadly pathogens, which cannot be vaccinated against, just like with humans.  Scientist working with this are Gro V. Amdam and Mr. Frietak and they feel this gives them an opportunity to create an edible and natural vaccine for insects. Frietak said, “We are patenting a way to produce a harmless vaccine, as well as how to cultivate the vaccines and introduce them to bee hives through a cocktail the bees would eat.  They would then be able to stave off disease”.

Berks and Schuylkill Beekeepers Association - American Foulbrood with gross fluidAmerican Foul Brood is one of the most dangerous of bacterium, Paenibacillus, causes spores to form, these infects a hive and it will quickly destroy it. Larvae up to three days old become infected by ingesting spores present in their food. Young larvae less than 24 hours old are most susceptible to infection.  Spores germinate in the gut of the larva and the vegetative form of the bacteria begins to grow, taking its nourishment from the larva.  A man made edible, natural vaccine for this disease would be welcomed by Beekeepers. This would be just one example of a way researchers could be very helpful to the bees.

It’s widely known pollinators, including bees, are facing serious environmental dangers. In the past sixty years domesticated honey bee colonies in the United States (US) have diminished from six million hives in the Nineteen-forties to just a mere two and half million today.  Pollinators are instrumental for a healthy economy and critical to food security.  Insects pollinate eighty-seven of the top one-hundred-fifteen food types and this includes most fruits and vegetables.

It would be amazing if a vaccine could help with Colony Collapse Disorder. A determination must be made as to the exact causation before this could be done. Pesticides, disease and other environmental factors are being blamed for the problems the bees are experiencing. Europe Union (EU) has already restricted pesticides and insecticides containing neonicotinoids. The latest news is the United Kingdom (UK) just overturned the ban on this type of pesticide for their country.  This pesticide is like nicotine is to humans, addictive and damaging.  This insecticide affects the central nervous system of insects, resulting in paralysis and death.



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