Biotech Startup Pioneers Formula to Help Save the Bees

Biotech Startup Pioneers Formula to Help Save the Bees

Argentinian and United States-based biotechnology startup, BeeFlow, believes that it has developed a solution to preventing loss of bee populations.

Pollinators like honeybees play a vital role in global crop production, including in the United States. According to a fact sheet released by the US Office of the Press Secretary, pollinators enable at least 90 percent of commercially grown crops in North America, while pollination by honeybees directly accounts for at least $15 billion to the economy. According to BeeFlow’s mission: “At BeeFlow, we want to create a positive impact in sustainable food production.”

Reported by CGTN, BeeFlow has developed to solutions that may significantly reduce some of the issues faced by bees. One of the formulas is an organic compound that will boost bee immune systems.“In 2016 USDA has recorded that 44 percent of the bee population has been lost because of low temperatures and because bees were exposed to pesticides that decrease their immune system,” said Matias Viel, Co-Founder and CEO of BeeFlow.

Co-Founder Agustin Saez, who holds a PhD in crop pollination, helped develop the second formula, which is designed to help bees stay on course.“You can apply these molecules so the bees are going to learn which specific crop do you want to pollinate,” said Saez.

In recent years, many bee colonies that have helped produce fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and more have fallen victim to what is known as colony collapse disorder (CCD). First reported in 2006, this phenomenon occurs when a large number of worker bees in a colony suddenly disappear, leaving behind a queen, food, and a few nurse bees to take care of the queen and young bees. Both the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Pesticide Information Center note that while CCD numbers have declined, it still poses a major problem to beekeepers. One study found that there is no single stressor that leads to CCD, but some of the issues include parasites and pathogens,  inadequate nutrition, bee pesticide poisoning, and stress caused by management practices that call for colonies of live bees to be moved to various locations across the country for pollination “services.”

The company has been working out of a lab at IndieBio, the world’s largest biotech accelerator, to test its formulas at the Simba Farms almond groves in California. Prior to that, Saez and Viel have conducted tests in Argentina, where they say the formulas helped farmers increase yields by 20 to 90 percent. Both formulas are still in development for the time being.