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A local beekeeper is excited about a new scientific breakthrough involving bee health.

PrimeBEE developed by the University of Helsinki in Finland is the first of its kind, an edible vaccine to protect honeybees and other pollinators.

In Canada alone, between 4 and 5.5 billion dollars in additional crop value is made possible through the pollination services provided by beekeepers and their honey bees, says Josh Wiebe.

Wiebe is the owner of Border Hills Honey Ltd. out of Roland; he says beekeepers often feel they are being left behind in agricultural research, which is what makes the development of a vaccine for bees so exciting.

"I'm a bit excited about it, being it was previously thought that vaccinations weren't a possibility for bees... To know that there are possibilities to reduce antibodies in bees as a whole, through boosting them with vaccination."

Due to an insect's immune system lacking antibodies, it was thought an impossibility to vaccinate insects. However, this new method has the queen bee feed on the vaccination which has pathogens in it. The queen then passes those pathogens through her eggs as inducers for future immune responses.

Though this research is in its infancy, Wiebe says it means a lot for the future of beekeeping.

The potential vaccine being worked on by PrimeBEE is to protect beehives from American foulbrood, a destructive bacterial disease.

AFB is one of the worst diseases out there says, Wiebe.

"It's a scary thing if you get it in Manitoba, there's no known cure, for it so usually that ends up in the destruction of your equipment because it's infected and the spores can last up to 50 years."

Wiebe notes that if your bees are too far gone they have to be destroyed too, a quarantine will be put on your operation and any sales you make. This can be detrimental to both the bees and the beekeeper says Wiebe, which is why this new research is so promising.

Researchers say they also hope to create vaccines for other bacterial or fungal diseases.

Wiebe is part of the South Central Beekeepers Association, they discuss current bee-related topics, network, and learn, and will be discussing more on this potential vaccination.

Wiebe invites all beekeepers and others to meet on Tuesday, February 5, at the Morden Library meeting room, from 7:30-9pm.

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