BeeHero smartens up hives to provide ‘pollination as a service’ with $4M seed round – TechCrunch

Huge monoculture farms naturally outlived the bee population’s ability to pollinate much earlier, but the techniques that have arisen to fill that gap are neither accurate nor modern. Israeli startup BeeHero It aims to change that by treating hives as living things and IoT devices, practically tracking health and pollination progress in real time. It just picked one $ 4 million seed round Should help increase its operations in American agriculture.

BeeHero smartens up hives to provide ‘pollination as a service’ with $4M seed round – TechCrunch

Honey is used to pollinate crops around the world, and there has been a growing demand for beekeepers, who can provide lots of hives at short notice and move them to wherever they are needed. . But the process has been hampered by the danger of the colony collapsing, a common end to hives, often as a result of mite infestation.

Hives have to be deployed and manually and routinely examined for a great deal of labor by bees – this is not something that anyone can do. They can only cover so much land in a given period of time, meaning that a hive can go weeks between inspections – during which time this colony may fall prey, perhaps with the intention of ruining the acreage. Was that it was to pollute a poor yield. It is expensive, time consuming and certainly last century.

So what is the solution? In so many other industries, it is the so-called Internet of Things. But the way CEO and founder Omar David explains it matters a lot.

“It’s a math game, a probabilistic game,” he said. “We’ve designed the problem model, and the main factors influencing it are, one, how do you find more efficient bees in the field, and two, what is the most efficient way to deploy them?”

Usually this will be determined ahead of time and monitored with the above manual checks. But off-the-shelf sensors can provide a window into the behavior and condition of the hive, monitoring both health and efficiency. You can say that it puts APIs in apiculture.

“We collect temperature, humidity, sound, there is an accelerometer. For pollination, we use pollen traps and computer vision to check the amount of pollen brought to the colony,” he said. “We microclimate it Pair with stuff and other information, and the behavior and patterns we see inside hives are correlated with other things. For example, the stress level of the queen. We’ve tested it on thousands of hives; it’s almost like that As the bees are telling us, a we have a queen problem. ‘

All this information goes directly to an online dashboard where trends can be assessed, dangerous situations are identified and plans are made for things like changing or relocating less or more efficient hives.

The company claims that its readings are within a few percentage points of the ground truth measurement made by beekeepers, but certainly this can be done from home and above all by saving a lot of time, hassle and cost.

The results of improved hive deployment and monitoring can be quite remarkable, although Davydi was quick to say that his company is building on a growing foundation of work in this increasingly important domain.

“We have not invented this process, it has been researched for years by a lot of us clever people. But we have seen a 30–35% increase in soybeans, 70–100% in apples and cashews in South America. “” It may baffle the mind that such immense improvements can come only from better bee management, but the studies they do carry it. Even “self-pollination” (ie wind Or by other measures) crops that do not require pollinators show severe improvement.

The platform exceeds development assistance and labor savings. The collapse of the colony is killing honeybees at huge rates, but if it can be detected early, it can be mitigated and potentially saved. The transition from infection to relapse is difficult when you are observing the past. Of BeeHero Metrics can give early warning of mite infestations, giving beekeepers a head start on keeping their fathers alive.

David said, “We have seen cases where you can reduce the mortality rate by 20-25%.” “It is good for the farmer to improve pollination, and it is good for beekeeper to reduce low hives.”

The company aims to provide value up and down the chain, not a tool for beekeepers to check their hives temperature. “It’s good to help the bees, but it doesn’t solve the whole problem. You want to help the whole operation,” said Davidi. The objective is “to provide insight rather than raw data: whether the queen is in danger, if The quality of pollination is different. ”

Other startups have similar ideas, but David said they are typically working on a smaller scale, focusing on some hobbyists who want to monitor honey production, or small businesses that sell their company’s nearly 20,000 Versus want to monitor a few dozen hives. Behero aims for scale with robust but off-the-shelf hardware to keep costs down, and by focusing on the increasingly tech-savvy agricultural sector here in the states.

“The reason we focus on the U.S. is that the adoption of precision agriculture is too high in this market, and I should call it a very big market,” David said. “Eighty percent of the world’s almonds are grown in California, so you have a small area where you can make a big impact.”

Investors for the round of $ 4 million include Rabo Food and Agri Innovation Fund, Upwest, iAngle, Plug and Play and J-Ventures.

Behero is still working on R&D, exploring other crops, better metrics and partnerships with universities to use hive data in academic studies. Expect to hear more as the market grows and the need for smart bee management seems a little less awkward and is much more similar to the need for modern agriculture.

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