Georgia researchers creating a buzz to help save the honeybee population

ATLANTA — A first-of-its-kind bee vaccine created by a Georgia company could be key to saving hives and the food supply.

Honeybees are responsible for pollinating one-third of the world’s food supply.

Dalan Animal Health operates out of a lab on the University of Georgia’s campus. The team of researchers are on a mission to save them from the American foulbrood disease.

[PHOTOS: Georgia researchers helping to save honeybee population with new vaccine]

“The disease has threatened the industry worldwide. It’s a global disease,” Dalan Animal Health CEO Annette Kleiser said.

Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Brian Monahan visited a bee farm in Carroll County to see how everyday citizens are also working to protect bee colonies.

Lonnie Burfield said he fell into the bee business when a friend asked him to care for two hives.

His love for bees and the workload grew quickly to now 90 hives.

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It’s important to work for industries like medicine or cosmetics, but Burfield explained they are also key to everyone’s survival.

“If these guys aren’t going around from plant to plant, we’re not going to eat?” Monahan asked.

“a lot of our crops require pollination,” Burfield said.

The idea for a honeybee vaccine was born at a lab at the University of Helsinki in Finland.

Kleiser met with the researchers behind it while studying in Europe.


“We decided we have to do this. We can’t wait. This is so important for the world to save these little animals,” Kleiser said.

The company operated out of her apartment in Los Angeles, remaining virtual until moving to Georgia.

“We needed to come all together and were looking for the ideal place. And that was Athens,” Kleiser said.

UGA’s research facilities, veterinarian school, and Georgia’s climate attracted the team.

This year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture gave the company’s creation the greenlight issuing its first-ever license for a bee vaccine.

The vaccine is put into a sugar paste called “queen candy”. It’s then fed to the queen bee and transfers into larvae, eventually protecting young bees from American Foulbrood.

That vaccine is now on the market.

Dalan Animal Health is also working on creating vaccines for other foulbrood diseases.