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Science

U.S. approves world's first vaccine for honeybees to stave off deadly 'foulbrood' disease

The way the bees receive the vaccine is fascinating.

bees, honeycomb, vaccines

Honeybees are getting their first vaccine.

Without bees, the human race would be screwed. We rely on those little buggers to pollinate most of the crops that feed most of the world—they're a critical link in the food chain that sustains human existence.

But scientists have been worried about bee populations in recent years, as colony collapse disorder, habitat loss and various bee diseases have threatened the planet's primary pollinators. There's good news for our fuzzy, buzzy friends, however. The world's first honeybee vaccine has been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help stave off American foulbrood, a deadly disease that's spread through bacterial spores and can take down entire colonies.

So how does a bee colony get vaccinated? Are we talking 50,000 teeny-tiny syringes or what?


The process is actually quite ingenious. According to a press release from Dalan Animal Health, the vaccine, which contains dead Paenibacillus larvae bacteria, gets mixed into the queen bee's feed, which is then consumed by worker bees. Those worker bees incorporate the vaccine into the royal jelly they feed to the queen. After she eats it, the vaccine gets deposited into her ovaries, which provides immunity to the larvae she produces. Thus, all her little baby bees are born already vaccinated for American foulbrood.

Pretty nifty, eh?

The vaccine was developed by the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in collaboration with biotech company Dalan Animal Health, and researchers are hopeful this breakthrough will lead to similar vaccines.

“They are taking a stab at this one because it’s such a historically important bee disease,” Keith Delaplane, CAES Department of Entomology professor and director of the UGA Bee Program, told Georgia Public Radio. “With the good results, which we anticipate based on lab work, we can expand the product line to other diseases.”

There is currently no cure for American foulbrood and, despite its name, it has become a global issue. According to Delaplane, beekeepers have been using antibiotics to fight off the disease, but the USDA is trying to cut down antibiotic use in all food-producing animals. This vaccine helps eliminate the need for them in the honeybee population.

The Guardian reports that the vaccine will first be made available to commercial beekeepers. American foulbrood has been found in up to a quarter of hives in some U.S. regions, forcing beekeepers to burn infected colonies and use antibiotics to limit the spread.

Annette Kleiser, CEO of Dalan Animal Health, pointed out that population growth and climate change make honeybee pollination all the more important to protect. “Our vaccine is a breakthrough in protecting honeybees,” she said. "We are ready to change how we care for insects, impacting food production on a global scale.”

The development and approval of this vaccine is also a good reminder that vaccine technology is always evolving and it's not just humans that benefit.

Of course, good news for honeybees is good news for humans. According to the FDA, honeybees specifically pollinate a third of the food Americans consume. We need them more than they need us, but helping them thrive is a win-win for us both.

Yay, science.

Pedro Pascal and Bowen Yang can't keep a straight face as Ego Nwodim tries to cut her steak.

Most episodes of “Saturday Night Live” are scheduled so the funnier bits go first and the riskier, oddball sketches appear towards the end, in case they have to be cut for time. But on the February 4 episode featuring host Pedro Pascal (“The Mandalorian,” “The Last of Us”), the final sketch, “Lisa from Temecula,” was probably the most memorable of the night.

That’s high praise because it was a strong episode, with a funny “Last of Us” parody featuring the Super Mario Brothers and a sketch where Pascal played a protective mother.

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AMC Theaters/Youtube, Variety/Twitter

AMC announced that it would be implementing a new three-tier ticketing system.

AMC Theaters, America’s largest movie theater chain, announced on Feb 6 that it will be adopting different ticket prices based on seat location.

Moviegoers will have three tiers to choose from based on sightline of the movie screen—Preferred Sightline, set in the middle at the highest price point, Value Sightline, set in the front of the auditorium at the lowest price, and Standard Sightline, which is basically everything else (including the back seats, which are perhaps the most commonly picked) set at the traditional cost of a ticket.

In other words…heartbreak will feel more expensive in a place like this…or less, depending on where you sit



The company’s announcement was met with both criticism and approval. While some feel the move follows a well-established business model, others have found it to be taking away a valued aspect of the moviegoing experience.

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Pop Culture

Keanu Reeves shocks a small-town pub by stopping in for a pint and taking photos with the staff

“So today we had a surprise visitor for lunch. What a lovely man he was, too."

Keanu Reeves in São Paulo, Brazil, 2019.

Keanu Reeves has a reputation as one of Hollywood’s nicest celebrities. Recently, he cheered up an 80-year-old fan who had a crush on him by calling her on the phone. He’s also bought an ice cream cone for a fan to give an autograph on the receipt and crashed a wedding to take photos with the bride and groom.

He’s also an incredible humanitarian who gave up a big chunk of his money from "The Matrix" to a cancer charity.

The “John Wick” star was his usual gracious self over the weekend when on Saturday, February 4, he and a friend walked into The Robin Hood pub in Tring, Hertfordshire, about 30 miles outside of London.

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via Pexels

A mother puts a fresh diaper on her baby.

Scientists at Penn State University have devised a “smart diaper” that alerts parents when their baby is wet. The diaper is made of paper, treated with sodium chloride (salt) and has a circuit board drawn with a pencil.

When the humidity level rises in the diaper, the graphite and the urine are absorbed by the paper and it turns on a sensor powered by a small lithium battery. The sensor then sets the alarm on an app that parents download onto their phones.

“The hydration sensor is highly sensitive to changes in humidity and provides accurate readings over a wide range of relative humidity levels, from 5.6% to 90%,” the researchers at Penn State said in a statement.

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Pop Culture

Kelly Clarkson and Pink's gorgeous unplugged 'What About Us?' duet came with a timely​ message

"We're not listening to each other right now. And it's so loud, and so gross, and so angry…"

Pink and Kelly Clarkson teamed up for a sweet acoustic version of "What About Us?"

Pink and Kelly Clarkson are both known for having powerhouse voices that can belt at incredible ranges but also soften for a sweet ballad. Put the two of them together, and…well, dang.

On Feb 6, Clarkson featured Pink on her daytime talk show, in which she often sings with musical guests. The two superstars sang several acoustic duets with pitch-perfect harmonies, prompting fans of both artists to clamor for a collaborative album.

One song they sang together was Pink's "What About Us?" Pink previously described the song to The Sun in 2017: "The world in general is a really scary place full of beautiful people. Humans are resilient and there's a lot of wonderful—like I said in the song—'billions of beautiful hearts' and there are bad eggs in every group. And they make it really hard for the rest of us."

In the intro to their duet, Clarkson asked Pink about the impetus behind her writing the song.

"We're not listening to each other right now. And it's so loud, and so gross, and so angry and people are being forgotten," Pink shared. "People are being counted out and their rights are being trampled on just because a group of people doesn't believe in them."

"Like, I don't understand how so many people in this world are discounted because one group of people decided they don't like that," she continued. "And I won't—I won't have it. One of the most beautiful things that my dad taught me was that my voice matters and I can make a difference, and I will."

The lyrics of the song seem to address the political leaders and decision-makers who hold people's lives in their hands as they pull the levers of power. It's a beautiful song with an important message wrapped up in gorgeous two-part harmony.

Enjoy:

Saturday Night Live/Youtube

"It's a me."

Pedro Pascal and HBO seem to be a match made in pop culture heaven. His role in the fourth season of “Game of Thrones” shot him to notoriety. He’s currently starring in “Last of Us,” which also boasts a massive viewership.

And now, thanks to one epic “Saturday Night Live” skit, fans are clamoring to see Pascal take on a new role—a brooding, hardened, princess smuggling Mario.

The faux trailer imagines the video game Mario Kart as a quintessential HBO drama. Mario (Pascal) has to use his driving skills to get Princess Peach (played by Chloe Fineman) through an apocalyptic Mushroom Kingdom.
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