Hear Me Out: Super Bees

Photo: AP

The bee population is plummeting and the ecosystems and food systems that depend on their pollination are declining. One startup’s solution to the incoming beepocalypse is to make better bees.

A report issued this summer found that last year U.S. beekeepers reported a loss of 40 percent of their bee colonies. That’s a huge blow to the agriculture industry as nearly $20 billion worth of annual crop production in the United States relies on honey bees.

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Beeflow is an Argentinian company that works with farmers to enhance the bees that are pollinating their crops. The startup has created a proprietary nutrient formula that is supposed to boost the bees’ immune systems and give them more stamina to fly in low temperatures.

“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,” Beeflow CEO Matias Viel told CNN. “We think that with healthier bees and then with a stronger immune system, bees can work better and perform better.”

According to Bloomberg, the custom compounds developed by Beeflow can also increase bees attraction to whatever farmers want the bees on their property to pollinate. Customers share the super soldier serum with bees by pouring it into a beehive once a week.

Beeflow told CNN its trials in Argentina have shown crop yields for almonds, apples, blueberries, and kiwis have increased by 90 percent. However, it told Bloomberg that it estimates a trial project at an Oregon blueberry farm improved crop yields by 25 percent and increased berry size by 22 percent. The company said it began testing the formula with a major California almond farmer in February, but hasn’t analyzed the results of this trial yet.

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In July Beeflow received a $3 million investment from Ospraie Ag Sciences. The company told CNN it plans to use that money to open a headquarters in Los Angeles and expand in the U.S.

If the results are as good as Beeflow claims then the company’s approach could be a boon for the agriculture industry. But if the bees continue to die off, it won’t matter how strong we’re able to make them.

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About the author

Jennings Brown

Senior editor and reporter at Gizmodo