Can tech solve the bee problem?
Omer Davidi and Itai Kanot founded BeeHero after asking a simple question: Can technology help solve the problems bees face? Colony collapse disorder, disease, and fewer resources prevent bees from pollinating the $15 billion worth of crops each year, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Davidi, a tech entrepreneur, and Kanot, a second-generation commercial beekeeper, then followed up that question with a second: How could they optimize pollination cycles to increase yields for farmers?
“We’ve focused on pollination because it doesn’t really matter the kind of crop we’re talking about. The question of whether a flower will be pollinated and turn into something farmers can monetize is a question of probability,” says Davidi.
- READ MORE: Planning for pollinators
Based in Israel and California, BeeHero has developed in-hive sensors to monitor and collect data about the environment, pollination performance, and hive health. They analyze approximately 30 data points to predict the quality of pollination and partner with beekeepers and farmers for “pollination as a service.”
How it works
In-hive sensors are positioned in the middle frame of a colony to collect information like presence of disease, food availability, humidity, temperature, amount of pollen brought into the colony, etc. The sensors send this data to the cloud, it is run through computational models, and BeeHero can then predict any disorders, all accessible to beekeepers via an online dashboard. Davidi explains, “It’s just like a blood test; we have the ability to do early detection. If we notice something is wrong and don’t see the consequences already, then we can prevent damage and make sure the bees have the right conditions in order to thrive.”
- READ MORE: What kind of bee is that?
Taking it a step further, BeeHero analyzes the best way to deploy hives for pollination. This is how farmers can track and monitor the cycle in real-time and ensure their crops are successfully pollinated.
“Having some biological boundaries like the flying pattern of the bee, the amount of pollen they bring into the colony, and measurements of pollination around the hive, we can determine what percentage of flowers will be pollinated,” explains Davidi. “It’s amazing to see now that we have results from several different crops for how the positioning of the hive affects the quality of pollination and results in a 20% to 30% increase in most crops.”
Internet of Things in Agriculture
Internet of Things (IoT) companies providing solutions to the ag industry face challenges to deploy their technology. The lack of network coverage across rural, remote areas, and over hundreds of miles of farmland is a significant obstacle for BeeHero to collect and process the data they need. To combat this, BeeHero works with Soracom, a cellular connectivity provider that specializes in IoT and provides coverage across multiple networks and bands.
The constantly changing environments and fleeting windows of opportunity make IoT even more difficult to manage. “Developers have to be running quickly and sometimes they don’t have the time, especially if field testing might be dependent upon a growing season,” says Kenta Yasukawa, cofounder and CTO of Soracom. “If you miss that window, you’re down for a year.”
Soracom’s platform allows BeeHero to get devices online quickly and control their entire network directly, which is especially important as they connect and control tens of thousands of devices on the ground to the cloud.
“Pollination doesn’t have to be a bet,” remarks Davidi. “It can be something much more stable and much more efficient.”
Founders: Omer Davidi, Itai Kanot, Yuval Regev
Headquarters: Palo Alto, CA
Background: BeeHero maximizes crop yield through precision pollination, which combines machine-learning algorithms with sensors to stimulate full output potential during peak pollination cycles.