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As honeybee colonies continue to collapse and threaten agricultural operations that depend on pollinators, one company has a unique solution: a smart home fit for the queen.
Tech Brew recently caught up with Beewise co-founder Eliyah Radzyner—who is a beekeeper himself—about how advances in hive technology can help the global food supply stay ahead of the climate crisis.
Radzyner emphasized that there’s an unbreakable link between healthy honeybee populations and thriving agricultural operations. On the flip side, there’s also a direct correlation between harsh environmental conditions and colony collapse. According to Beewise, 40% of bee colonies disband every year, while, per the USDA, 80% of flowering plants depend on bee pollination.
“Bees are dying from extreme heat, extreme cold. They’re dying from pests that were introduced from other places in the world, and dying from viruses and macro pesticides,” Radzyner said. “Bees are facing all these threats, which are really devastating the bee population.”
That’s where remote monitoring and management come in. Beewise’s signature product, the Beehome, upgrades the traditional wooden box that beekeepers have used for decades in favor of a smart home of sorts. Interior cameras keep an eye on honeycomb growth and worker productivity. The boxes can regulate temperatures and release additional food to the colony as needed via an app. They can also remotely close the hive so that worker bees stay inside when nearby farmers are treating their crops with pesticides, reducing honeybee deaths.
Remote management is especially key because beekeepers often travel long distances to check on individual colonies, and they can typically only visit each colony every few weeks, Radzyner said.
On top of time and travel constraints, he said that manual beehive maintenance is largely performed by workers who may lack the expertise to identify problems in a colony in real time. To that end, Beewise provides AI analysis of data collected across thousands of hives, tracking trends and anomalies to help inform beekeepers’ operations.
“Now, with our system, with the Beehome, we can actually afford to have expert beekeepers look at real-time data, make decisions in real time that are carried out in real time in the field. So when a colony of bees faces a threat, our beekeepers are getting notified,” Radzyner said. “They’re able to correct that threat…before it starts spiraling the colony into collapse.”
As Tech Brew reported last year, Beewise has raised nearly $120 million in venture funding since its founding in 2018, including an $80 million round in March 2022. Radzyner noted the company is now starting to raise a Series D round.
Right now, Beewise is most active in California’s Central Valley, where it supports a variety of growers including in the almond industry. On the horizon in 2024, he said Beewise hopes to expand from 3,000 connected hives to 10,000, servicing even more beekeepers and colonies.
“We’re really growing by leaps and bounds,” Radzyner said. “We’re always supply-constrained. There’s always more demand for devices than we can actually provide.”