Bees are absolutely critical to the health of our agricultural system, ecosystem, and overall wellbeing as a species here on Earth. And yet bee populations are decreasing and extinction concerns are growing.
Beeflow, a startup that today announced the close of a $8.3 million Series A round, is looking to both save the bees and help farmers be more efficient and effective at the same time.
The startup uses proprietary scientific technology that essentially makes bees healthier, particularly in cold weather. A wealth of research led the company to understand that certain plant-based foods and molecules, when fed to the bees, can reduce the mortality rate of bees by up to 70 percent, and help them perform better in colder weather.
You might be wondering what I mean by performance. That's fair.
Bees are the planet's natural pollinators. They turn flowers into fruit, spreading pollen from one landing spot to another. Many farmers will 'rent out' bees from beekeepers to hang out on their farms and pollinate their plants. In almost every way, the effectiveness of this can't be measured, and the bees themselves can't truly be controlled.
Beeflow's technology ensures that the bees are healthy and strong, and can fly up to 7x more during colder weather than they'd be able to without it. This means that those bees are much more likely to effectively and efficiently pollinate crops for the farmers.
Beyond reducing the mortality rate of bees, the company also offers a second product called ToBEE, which trains the bees to target a specific crop, such as blueberries or almonds.
Combined, these Beeflow products have increased crop yields for farmers up to 90 percent.
Beeflow's business model is two-fold. They have their own bees that they loan out to farmers for pollination, and also work with beekeepers to bring them into the Beeflow network. Bee keepers do not pay for Beeflow's technology, but do hand over the rights to their relationships with farmers.
The startup was founded by Matias Viel, who is from Argentina, and is mostly operational in Latin America and the West Coast of the U.S., with plans to expand to the East Coast and Mexico.
"The greatest challenge is operational and around execution," said Viel. "There is so much demand and we need to scale our team and our operations now."
The financing round was led by Ospraie Ag Science, with participation from Future Ventures' Steve Jurvetson, Jeff Wilke, Vectr Ventures, SOSV's IndieBio and Grid Exponential.