BeeHero is an Israeli startup company based in California established in 2017. By using “SmartHive” along with the technology of Internet of Things (IoT), the company is devoted to promoting sustainable agriculture and food production for human survival.
Bees as pollinators are important to food production. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, 75% of global crops producing fruits or seeds for human consumption depends to various extents on pollinators (FAO, 2018). Yet, due to different reasons, including climate change, pesticide use and habitat loss, Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) affects the survival of bees. CCD deprives worker bees of the ability to navigate and the bees would fail to return to their hives after finding pollen (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2021). The vulnerable bee queen and immature bees are then left in the hive and they eventually die without food brought by worker bees. It is estimated that in year 2020-2021, bee farmers in the United States lost 45.5% of their bee colonies. Food production is also threatened by the death of pollinators. As the human population has skyrocketed since the previous century (United Nations, n.d.), food production would be on the brink of collapse in face of such a huge demand.
BeeHero’s “SmartHive” uses IoT to monitor the activities of bees in the hive. A SmartHive sensor is incorporated on the top of the hive to provide real-time information to customers. BeeHero enhances farmers’ production by optimizing hive placement to ensure full coverage of the farm, so that pollination can be done more efficiently. The real-time, historical and overall pollination activities are shown to farmers to monitor the pollination quality. As the pollination quality raises, the quality and quantity of produce can also be improved. Whilst for bee farmers, insights regarding the temperature, humidity, pollination activity and colony health are made available via a mobile phone application, allowing for timely action in case of any abnormal situations, such as dead-outs, mite infestation and queen bee failures. This can lead to the reduction of bee mortality rates by addressing approaching colony problems, and also result in higher pollination rates and lower operation costs. This service also allows beekeepers to own healthier colonies, so they can sell quality bee frames to the market with higher profit.
Even though developed as a startup, various venture capital firms and investment companies, such as CIBUS Fund under ADM Capital and Rabo F&A Innovation Fund of Rabobank have invested in BeeHero. The company has also been funded and supported by the Horizon 2020 Programme under the European Union, Israel Innovation Authority and Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial and Research and Development Foundation. Moreover, BeeHero also partners with different universities to conduct research on pollination and agriculture, including University of Oxford, UC Davis and Washington University in St. Louis. BeeHero has contributed great effort in promoting sustainable agriculture in terms of strengthening pollination and increasing crop yield. The company has set up more than 50,000 smart hives so far. Bees in the smart hives have pollinated about 28,000 acres of land, more than 3.8 million trees and 54 billion flowers.
BeeHero. [Online]. https://www.beehero.io.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (2018). Why Bees matter: The importance of bees and other pollinators for food and agriculture. Retrieved at: https://www.fao.org/3/i9527en/i9527en.pdf.
United Nations. Population. Retrieved at: https://www.un.org/en/global-issues/population.
United States Environmental Protection Agency. Colony Collapse Disorder. Retrieved at: https://www.epa.gov/pollinator-protection/colony-collapse-disorder.