A 21st century solution to a 21st century problem
Bees are among our closest allies in the insect kingdom. They play a crucial role in farming worldwide, pollinating the crops that humans depend on for our own survival. But in recent years they have also come under threat from a variety of factors, from pesticides and parasites to environmental pollutants and global climate change. Fortunately, advances in remote sensing and predictive analytics are now helping us to better protect and care for our tiniest farmers.
The BeeHero team was formed in 2017, within an elite entrepreneurial program at IDC University outside Tel Aviv. The founding team includes:
- Itai Kanot, a second-generation commercial beekeeper with a deep understanding of the role bees play in modern agriculture;
- Michal Roizman, an accomplished product manager familiar with the challenge of leading development teams for global electronics companies;
- Yuval Regev, a technical specialist in hardware and data analytics, bringing 7 years of elite-unit service with Israeli intelligence;
- Omer Davidi, a serial entrepreneur with deep technical knowledge and experience building multiple successful businesses.
Beginning with just a handful of hives, BeeHero has now grown into a truly global venture, with offices in Tel Aviv and Palo Alto and operations spanning the globe from Israel to Europe and the U.S.
We found ourselves struggling to scale with our previous solutions, so we were very glad to find Soracom. We were able to start testing in field within just 48 hours of contacting Soracom, but more than that, it was clear Soracom put the customer first. In a fast-paced environment with a lot of moving parts, having a partner who feels like part of the team is a huge advantage, and we are very happy to scale together.
Protecting a crucial link in the global food supply chain
More than 70% of human food crops depend on bees for pollination. That makes bees a crucial contributor to the security of our global food supply. But the world’s honey bees are at risk. In fact, due to Colony Collapse Disorder, first identified in 2006, nearly 40% of bee colonies die each year, and even those that survive are often compromised.
Commercial beekeepers do have tools available to step in to treat the most serious problems affecting their colonies, but these tools only work if they can diagnose the trouble before it’s too late.
New technology, new diagnostics, and new data
BeeHero’s low-cost sensors translate data from inside the hives into over 25 different features, each feeding BeeHero algorithms in order to predict beehive disorders before they can damage the colony. Indications include everything from colony health, brood diseases, and mite activity to the presence of a queen or the possibility of colony collapse. But sophisticated machine learning algorithms require a large volume of high-quality data for effective training. Since that data set didn’t exist, BeeHero set out to build it, partnering first with commercial beekeepers representing 25% Israel’s working bees, and eventually with three of the largest commercial beekeepers in the U.S. Today, BeeHero owns the world’s largest database of measures related to bees and pollination.
BeeHero’s customized sensor systems and advanced diagnostics now work together to help beekeepers reduce their colonies’ mortality rate. They also dramatically improve hive well-being and optimize pollination quality. This solution delivers immediate benefit for commercial beekeepers, working bees, and growers. Reliable remote monitoring of hive conditions, without physical inspection, translates to significant reductions in beekeeper operating cost. At the same time, improved hive health maintains bee populations to increase coverage and crop yields for growers. BeeHero data now confirms that fields using BeeHero technology yield more crops and higher revenue per acre.
Speed to market, speed to scale
Working bees travel by truck to cover territories hundreds of miles. In the fields they work, even cellular coverage can be unpredictable. As the scale of BeeHero’s operation grew from tens of hives to tens of thousands, the team found that reliable, affordable connectivity was becoming a real challenge, even when working with the “big brand” mobile providers.
As CEO and co-founder Omer Davidi explains, “We found ourselves struggling to scale with our previous solutions, so we were very glad to find Soracom. We were able to start testing in field within just 48 hours of contacting Soracom, but more than that, it was clear Soracom put the customer first. In a fast-paced environment with a lot of moving parts, having a partner who feels like part of the team is a huge advantage, and we are very happy to scale together.”
Hero to billions
BeeHero currently works with a number of commercial beekeepers, almond and berry growers, and agricultural researchers. As hive installation continues, BeeHero is on pace to monitor over 20,000 beehives in the US and over one billion bees around the world.
Following its successful proof of concept in Israel, BeeHero has established its global headquarters in Palo Alto, where the team has built strong relationships with the growers and researchers of California’s bountiful Central Valley. California is the 5th largest food supplier in the world, leading North American production of everything from almonds and avocados peaches, grapes and strawberries. BeeHero is now hard at work ensuring that those crops will be successfully pollinated for generations to come.