Beeflow, which provides crop pollination technologies, has raised US$8.3 million in a Series A financing round, led by Ospraie Ag Science and joined by Future Ventures’ Steve Jurvetson (a Tesla and SpaceX board member), Jeff Wilke (former Amazon CEO, worldwide consumer), Vectr Ventures, SOSV’s IndieBio and Grid Exponential.
The Beeflow platform is based on extensive scientific research into how bee nutrition and behaviour influence pollinators’ performance and health. Dr. Walter Farina, an Argentinean researcher with more than 20 years of experience studying bee brains and communication, leads the scientific effort for Beeflow’s ToBEE – a technology that trains bees to pollinate targeted flowers.
According to its website, the company does this by feeding bees with plant-based organic molecules that condition their memory so that they seek to pollinate specific target crops (that are usually unattractive to them for one reason or another) and are less distracted by other flowers. This substantially improves pollination of target crops.
Reducing bee mortality and boosting productivity
The Los-Angeles-based company’s unique ‘recipe’ of proprietary, plant-based supplements is also designed to improve bee health, particularly in cold weather. Founded by Argentinian Matias Viel in 2016, Beeflow discovered that the introduction of certain plant-based foods and molecules to a bee’s ‘diet’ can not only reduce the mortality rate of bees, but also boost their productivity in less clement weather – in fact the company claims it can help bees improve their pollination in cooler temperatures by up to seven times.
Overall, Beeflow claims its pollination technologies help farmers improve yields of crops such as blueberries and almonds by up to 90%, and reduce the mortality rate of bees, which are essential to biodiversity and sustainable agriculture, by up to 70%.
The company is now working with firms such as Driscoll’s, the largest US berry producer, to maximize berry size and quantity per plant.
“We are impressed with Beeflow’s advances in bee health and pollination efficiency, which are critically important to a durable and well-functioning set of interconnected ecosystems,” said Yogesh Mago, senior partner at Ospraie Ag Science. “OAS is excited to lead the Series A round, supporting Beeflow’s continued innovation on the farm and those concomitant positive externalities to the environment.”
“We are very excited to work with investors who believe that bees will play a role in leading the transition to a more regenerative and sustainable agriculture system,” added Viel, Beeflow’s CEO. “Pollination was a largely forgotten issue by the agriculture industry, but now ‘bee-friendly’ practices are becoming standard for the food supply chain. It’s a perfect time for us to scale and grow our team.”
“Bees are responsible for pollinating 70% of global crop production and play a significant role in our food supply chain,” he continued, “but the agriculture industry historically has been hard on insects, and many of the planet’s 20,000 bee species are near extinction. We need to restore insect biodiversity to make agriculture more sustainable. At Beeflow, we use nature as a technology to produce more food with less environmental impact.”