Help for honeybees is here! In January, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved a vaccine that will protect bees from a dangerous disease. It is the first vaccine approved for any insect in the U.S.  

Honeybees need all the help they can get. Between 2021 and 2022, U.S. beekeepers lost nearly 40 percent of their bee colonies, or groups.

This is bad news for crops. Honeybees are pollinators. They transfer grains called pollen between flowers, which helps plants reproduce. Bees pollinate about one-third of the nation’s crops, including almonds, apples, and broccoli. 

The new vaccine will protect bees from American foulbrood. The disease can spread quickly, wiping out entire colonies of as many as 60,000 bees.

The vaccine will be fed to queen bees. They will pass it along to their offspring, which will be immune to the disease.

American foulbrood isn’t the only threat that bees face. Tiny insect-like creatures called mites infect bees with deadly viruses. Pesticides are also a problem. These chemicals used on some farms kill bees. The new vaccine can’t solve all these problems. But scientists hope it will lead to more protection for bees.