The USDA has just given approval to a company called Dalan Animal Health for what's being called the first vaccine for honeybees, designed to protect the insects from the plague of American Foulbrood. From The Guardian:
The vaccine, which will initially be available to commercial beekeepers, aims to curb foulbrood, a serious disease caused by the bacterium Paenibacillus larvae that can weaken and kill hives. There is currently no cure for the disease, which in parts of the US has been found in a quarter of hives, requiring beekeepers to destroy and burn any infected colonies and administer antibiotics to prevent further spread.
The vaccine works by incorporating some of the bacteria into the royal jelly fed by worker bees to the queen, which then ingests it and gains some of the vaccine in the ovaries. The developing bee larvae then have immunity to foulbrood as they hatch, with studies by Dalan suggesting this will reduce death rates from the disease.
I'm sure this will inspire a whole new genre of conspiracy theories, but I for one find it kind of fascinating.
US government approves use of world's first vaccine for honeybees [Oliver Milman / The Guardian]
The World's First Vaccine for Honeybees Is Here [Sarah Kuta / Smithsonian Magazine]