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Bee Healthy

Scientists made the world’s first vaccine for bees!

A honeybee queen sits on a honeycomb.

© Mirko Graul/

When bees get sick, it can cause big problems for people. In 2023, scientists said they created a vaccine that can help honeybees stay healthy. It’s the world’s first vaccine for honeybees.

A vaccine is something that is put in an animal’s body to help protect the animal from a certain disease. There are vaccines for humans and many other species of animals. The vaccine that scientists made for honeybees protects them against a disease called foulbrood. Foulbrood can kill off entire hives of honeybees. 

Honeybee health is very important to people. That’s because honeybees are pollinators. They fly to plants that have flowers to collect pollen and nectar. The pollen and nectar are food for all the bees in the hive. When bees visit flowers, they end up spreading pollen from flower to flower. If plants aren’t pollinated, they can’t grow seeds to make new plants. And all the fruits and vegetables we eat come from plants. Without pollinators like bees, we wouldn’t have a lot of our food.

So, the bee vaccine isn’t meant to help just the bees. It’s meant to help humans, too, by protecting our food supply.

Many vaccines are given by needle, but bees are way too small for that. The bee vaccine is fed to the queen bee—the bee that lays all the eggs for the hive. Once the queen bee is protected from the disease, all the eggs she lays will be protected from the disease as well.

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Fun Fact

© Igor Zubkov/, © Littlewormy/; Photo illustration Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Honeybees must visit about two million flowers to make enough honey to fill one jar!

Which Bee is Which?

© mahroch—Creatas Video+/Getty Images

In this video, the queen bee is easy to spot. She’s marked with the number 46.

Every bee in a honeybee hive has a job to do. Let’s take a closer look.

Every honeybee hive has a queen bee. This female bee is larger than the other female bees. Her only job is to lay eggs so that new bees can hatch and grow into adults. The queen is cared for by other female bees, which feed her a special food called royal jelly. 

The honeybees you’re most likely to see flying around are worker bees. These bees are all female. Some worker bees take care of the queen or the larvae (young bees). Others collect pollen and nectar and bring it back to the hive. Others store the pollen and nectar and make honey. Some workers keep the hive clean. Others guard the hive to keep humans and other animals out.

Drones are male bees. Drones don’t collect pollen, clean, or do any of the other jobs the workers do. A drone’s job is to mate with the queen. When the weather turns cold and the hive needs to save its food supply for the winter months, the drones get kicked out by the worker bees.

It’s not easy being a bee!

We Need Bees

© tunart—E+/Getty Images

The bee in the photo is covered in pollen. It will take that pollen to the next flower. This is one way plants are pollinated. Learn more about bees at Britannica School!

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Word of the Day


Part of speech:



: a group of plants or animals living or growing in one place

Definitions provided by
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Can you find all the types of bees?


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