Indianapolis-based The Bee Corp is launching a pilot study to test its hive grading technology with a new crop. The company is using a federal grant to test Verifli, which uses infrared imagery and data analytics to determine beehive strength, for sunflower pollination in addition to the almond fields in which it is currently used.
The Bee Corp is partnering with Syngenta Seeds in North Carolina on the project. The trial, which is set to begin in June, will take place on seed production fields in the Sacramento Valley area in California.
“This partnership with The Bee Corp will allow us to test and prove Verifli has the potential to help Syngenta Seeds, growers and beekeepers to improve beehive management and pollination in seed production,” Itacir Feldhaus, North American seeds production research leader at Syngenta, said in a news release. “If proven, Verifli will help make seed production more efficient and environmentally sustainable.”
The Bee Corp says Verifli grades hives overnight and gives growers results on a dashboard from which they can assess pollination across different sites, compare beekeeper performance, and pinpoint the location of weak bees. The startup says having such early recognition will allow growers to make adjustments before there are any detrimental impacts on crop yields.
“Though initially built for almond growers, we designed the Verifli platform to deliver objective hive strength data for all crops that rely on honey bee pollination,” said Wyatt Wells, co-founder and chief marketing officer for The Bee Corp. “Verifli offers a fast and reliable way for growers to evaluate pollination and for beekeepers prove the value they provide.”
Funding for the study comes from the $750,000 Small Business Innovation Research Phase II grant the startup received in 2019 from the National Science Foundation.
The Bee Corp recently marked its fifth anniversary after being launched from a beekeeping club at Indiana University. Wells spoke with Inside INdiana Business and said the startup has seen an “enormous evolution” since its founding.