While there has been much talk about vaccines in recent times, it is not relevant to bees. However, a Cornell student has realized that bees are the most important pollinators and they are often exposed to deadly pesticides. Therefore, it is time to talk about bee vaccination.
James Webb was not content to talk, he also invented one: a pollen-sized microparticle that contained a compound which neutralized one of most toxic pesticides bees come across. After being fed malathion, bees had a dramatically increased survival rate.
Beemunnity is a marketable supplement/vaccine for beekeepers that was demonstrated in a study–published in Nature journal–to prevent 100% of bee deaths from malathion (whereas the survival rate of bees exposed to malathion in the control group was 0%).
The enzyme it contains enters the digestive system and breaks down the malathion before it reaches the bee’s brain.
Webb was unable to produce a product that could be used for all major pesticides in agriculture. However, he is working on other products and will have one ready for wild bee species by the end. You can fill the same microparticles with a special oil, which absorbs other pesticides as a sponge. The bee leaves the particle behind when it goes to the bathroom, but the pesticides don’t return to the environment.
Webb states that Webb has not yet found a pesticide that could not be captured by technology.
Webb spoke to Adele Peters at Fast Company. “I think there was a lot being done into finding out if bees are going mad and how they’re dying,” Webb stated.
Webb admits that this is not an option, but he believes his products can help both beekeepers as well as bee enthusiasts to protect their bees until industrial agriculture can remove pesticides from their operations.
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