Using biotechnology, digital technology, and AI, Beefutures Holding is a start-up making the beehives of the future.
Bee death has become a widespread, worldwide problem. Bee entrepreneur Christopher Brod and the rest of Beefutures Holding are now in the process of developing a smarter beehive designed to protect the bees and keep out potential dangers.
“I’ve worked with bees for many years and initially experienced a need to remotely control my beehives in France while I was in Norway,” says Brod, a trained engineer from a family with a long history of beekeeping.
Support from Innovation Norway
The company has received around NOK 4.7 million in support from Innovation Norway as a start-up grant and for testing equipment. Brod says it is pleased with the support.
"The money has definitely helped us get started. The cooperation with Innovation Norway has been very good, and we have received good help from many advisers," says Brod.
Hans Marius Brandstorp is a funding adviser at Innovation Norway and very enthusiastic about the company.
“It’s an exciting company that can make a big difference with respect to the challenges facing bees. These insects are unbelievably important from a food and agricultural perspective. One of the main reasons we have chosen to support the company is that it scores high in relation to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and at an international innovation level. I hope it is successful,” says Brandstorp.
Helping bees with innovative beehives
Bees are dying for several reasons, one of which is the Varroa mite, a type of parasite. It gets into a beehive, harms the bees, and leads to diseases. Beefutures Holding have found out that it can use heat treatment to defeat the mite.
“We have seen that heating a hive from below once a month keeps the parasite in check so that they cannot reproduce,” explains Brod.
Major changes to weather patterns and problems finding food are also killing bees. They cannot maintain a stable temperature in the beehive, which leads to the colony not developing normally and stressing the bees. Using the light therapy in the new beehive strengthens the mitochondria in the cells of the bees, which restores the bees energy. This makes them better able to cope with, for example, pesticides.
“We also have sensors that measure the temperature and humidity in the beehive. And audio and video monitoring allow us to monitor how the bees are doing in an area.”
For example, it can see how far the bees have to fly to find food and how many bees leave the beehive and do not return. In other words, useful data when you want a good idea of whether or not an area is safe for bees.
The Oslo company’s technology comes at a time when beekeepers around the world are sorely in need of new solutions. The smarter beehive and data platform will save beekeepers a lot of time and give them more control over their beehives.
“We have received an enormous amount of attention internationally, including from the biggest US beekeeper, Ubees, which has 20,000 beehives,” says the entrepreneur.
Brod reports that they have already received an order from the French Ministry of Agriculture.
“We want to save bees to ensure sustainable agriculture. One goal is to ensure that agriculture can use bees as a tool to measure whether farming practices are beneficial for the insects’ pollination services. Another is to get all European cities to use our beehives, so that they can read off data about how the bees are doing and collect valuable information,” explains Brod.