For crops like almonds, bee pollination is a critical first step in their growing season. Now, an Indiana based agtech company is making it possible for growers to know what beehive health looks like ahead of that first step. On this week’s episode of the Ag+Bio+Science podcast, AgriNovus Indiana Chief Executive Officer Mitch Frazier is joined by Ellie Symes, CEO of Indianapolis-based The Bee Corp.
“I did not think I would obviously start a business or work in beekeeping. But I was definitely wanting to work in food sustainability. Bees are an important part of that,” said Symes, who earned an Indiana University degree through the School of Public Environmental Affairs.
As a student, Symes helped start a beekeeping club, which led to the eventual launch of The Bee Corp. in 2016. Symes and cofounder Wyatt Wells had a goal to prevent hive loss through technology.
“We’re innovating on the appraisal process that’s done by the growers to make sure the hives that show up can actually complete crop pollination and to make sure the growers are getting what they pay for on the hives that they rent,” explained Symes.
She says instead of opening a hive and guessing how many bees are inside, their technology, Verifli, uses infrared imaging analysis to predict the number of bees.
Symes says there is a very tight window in crop pollination, whether it is almonds, berries or avocadoes. Miss that window and farmers do not have a crop.
“As a grower, it’s really essential that it goes, right. You have no idea what the weather’s gonna be like during pollination. But you need to make sure that even if you have the worst weather, you still have enough bees to fully pollinate your crop in the small window you might have.”
Frazier also asked Symes about the growing ag tech sector in Indiana. She says it has grown even during the six years since her company launch.
“We have a lot more resources for companies just starting out. I think when I started in early 2016 those resources were here. They just weren’t formalized,” said Symes.
She says organizations, like AgriNovus and business incubator The Mill in Bloomington have formalized steps and processes needed to help entrepreneurs and startup businesses to grow.
“We just have a lot more than we did when we started. And that’s a great thing. I also think we have a lot more breadth of industries and solutions than when we started. We were one of the only ag tech companies when we started. Now there’s many. And it’s been cool to see the change.”
The full podcast with The Bee Corp’s Ellie Symes will be available Monday morning. Click here for more information on how you can listen. Plus, click here for the full lineup of Inside INdiana Business podcasts, including the Business and Beyond podcast with Gerry Dick.