Environment

Beeflow: Startup Creates "Super Bees" to Save Crops

The Argentina-based company says its nutrient formula boosts bees’ immune systems and helps them work seven times more effectively in cold temperatures.

18.10.2019 | by Christy Romer
Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash
Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash

Beeflow CEO Matias Viel makes a strange claim. When bees eat his startup’s special nutrient formula, they become seven times better at flying in cold temperatures.

Given the crisis gripping the global bee population—a collapse in numbers triggered by predators, pesticides and the climate crisis, which peaked last winter—this could have huge implications for agriculture. Bees are responsible for pollinating just under a third of all crops.

“If you have bad weather, or cold temperatures during that period, and you have a low amount of bee activity hours, your crop won’t be that good. We think that with healthier bees and then with a stronger immune system, bees can work better and perform better,” Viel told CNN Business.

CNN reports that the formula has been tested on farms in Argentina, where the company is based, helping to increase the yield for almonds, blueberries, apples and kiwis. Almond farms are a particular target, given the industry’s struggles to find enough bees to pollinate their crops during the short two- to three-week pollination window.

As part of the tests, bees are fed the foodstuff, made up of sugar, water and other specially developed ingredients, once a week. The startup then tracks how often they visit flowers—with the idea being that the formula also attracts them to specific, typically under-visited crops.

Viel says that his “super bees” will help pollination become more efficient, implying that they could also help reign in rising costs to rent bee hives per acre during the pollination season.

The company has been backed by a $3 million investment from Ospraie Ag Science, a venture capital firm. Beeflow plans to build an office and a team in Los Angeles with the funds.

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