Researchers from Arizona State University, University of Helsinki, University of Jyväskylä, and Norwegian University of Life Sciences have discovered that queen bees have a unique way of immunizing their babies against external pathogens found in the environment. They found that the nectar and pollen that the worker bees bring to the queen which is converted to ‘royal jelly’ – a food made just for the queen – contains pathogens. When the queen eats the food, the pathogens get digested in her gut and are stored in her body. Pieces of the bacteria are then bound to vitellogenin -- a protein -- and carried via blood to the developing eggs. As a result, bee babies are 'vaccinated' and their immune systems are better prepared to fight diseases found in their environment once they are born. Researchers knew that bees immunize their babies, but this is the first time they have been able to understand the role of vitellogenin in this process. According to researchers, this knowledge will help them develop medicines that bees will ingest easily, and will then be able to fight climate change and certain deadly bacteria that are threatening bee population.
Read more in Science Daily.