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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.

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Making new friends as an adult is challenging. While people crave meaningful IRL connections, it can be hard to know where to find them. But thanks to one Facebook Group, meeting your new best friends is easier than ever.

Founded in 2018, NYC Brunch Squad brings together hundreds of people who come as strangers and leave as friends through its in-person events.

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Despite its name, the group doesn’t just do brunch. They also have book clubs, seasonal parties, and picnics, among other activities.

NYC Brunch Squad curates up to 10 monthly events tailored to the specific interests of its members. Liza handles all the details, taking into account different budgets and event sizes – all people have to do is show up.

“We have members who met at our events and became friends and went on to embark on international journeys to celebrate birthdays together. We have had members get married with bridesmaids by their sides who were women they first connected with at our events. We’ve had members decide to live together and become roommates,” Liza says.

Members also bond over their passion for giving back to their community. The group has hosted many impact-driven events, including a “Picnic with Purpose” to create self-care packages for homeless shelters and recently participated in the #SquadSpreadsJoy challenge. Each day, the 100 members participating receive random acts of kindness to complete. They can also share their stories on the group page to earn extra points. The member with the most points at the end wins a free seat at the group's Friendsgiving event.

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via UNSW

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I have a confession to make. I'm 48 years old, my youngest child is in high school and I can't stop watching "Bluey."

For the uninitiated, "Bluey" is a kids' cartoon from Australia aimed at 5 to 7-year-olds. It's been nearly a decade since my household has seen that demographic, so when people kept telling me I should watch "Bluey," my reaction was basically, "Yeah, I've already done my kiddie show time, thankyouverymuch."

Then my almost-15-year-old started watching it just to see what the fuss was about. And as I started tuning in, I saw why people love it so much. I figured it was going to be a wholesome show with some good lessons for kids, and it is.

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Image by Tax Foundation.

Map represents the value of 100 dollars.

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The Tax Foundation addressed many of these shortcomings using the most recent (2015) Bureau of Economic Analysis data to provide a familiar map of the United States overlaid with the relative value of what $100 is "worth" in each state. Granted, going state-by-state still introduces a fair amount of "smoothing" into the process — $100 will go farther in Los Angeles than in Fresno, for instance — but it does provide insight into where the value lies.

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Canva

Girl sitting in detention

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Back in 2015, Jason Smith, a school principal, met a sixth-grade girl sitting outside his office, waiting to be reprimanded for throwing yogurt at a classmate during lunch.

That girl, Raven Whitaker, would later become his daughter.

Smith recalled with Good Morning America that the 11-year-old looked like a “sweet,” “innocent” child as she admitted to him what she had done.

Trying to reason with her, Smith asked, "Well, if you were out at a restaurant, would you do that there?'"

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Volunteers are essential to animal shelters running effectively to fill in the gaps employees may not have time for. Rocky Kanaka has been volunteering to sit with dogs to provide comfort. Recently he uploaded a video of an extremely emaciated Vizsla mix that was doing his best to make himself as small as possible in the corner of the kennel.

Kanaka immediately wanted to help him adjust so he would feel comfortable enough to eat and eventually get adopted. The dog appeared scared of his new location and had actually rubbed his nose raw from anxiety, but everything changed when Kanaka came along.

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