Beewise attracts $80 million investment for robotic hives

Beewise, an Israeli beekeeping technology startup, has raised $80 million in investment for its automated solution to save bee populations around the world, the company announced on Wednesday.

Insight Partners, a New York-headquartered private equity firm that has invested in a number of Israeli companies, led this Series C funding – along with investors such as Sanad Abu Dhabi, a private investment and portfolio management company which is a subsidiary of the Emirati sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, a subsidiary whose activities are concentrated in aerospace. Other investors include Israeli investment groups Fortissimo Capital, Corner Ventures, lool ventures, Atooro Fund, and Meitav Dash Investments.

A start-up founded in 2018, Beewise has developed the “Beehome”, a solar-powered hive that combines the opportunities offered by robotics, artificial intelligence and imagery, with a software platform and a mobile application that control and take care of bees around the clock. The device can accommodate up to 24 colonies of bees and automatically controls the climatic and humidity conditions in the hive, it identifies and eliminates parasites and other harmful insects, it also detects when a colony is preparing to swarm, it sends an alert if human intervention is necessary and it is even able to harvest the honey produced by bees.

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“The Beehome works with 24 colonies, 12 on each side. And at the center is a robotic system that moves around and monitors the bees, 24/7, using computer vision, machine learning and neural networks. He distributes food, water, medicine if there is a disease or a parasite; the Beehome can tell if it’s too hot or too cold – the robot has all these capabilities,” said co-founder and CEO of the firm, Saar Safra, at the Times of Israel last August, evoking the mission that his company has set itself, which is to save the bees in the world, which are currently in danger.

Controlling and monitoring all these conditions in real time can improve yields, make pollination more efficient and protect bee populations, he explained.

And bee populations definitely need to be protected. Due to what Safra describes as a “real disaster” in terms of climate change but also habitat loss, excessive use of agricultural chemicals, the presence of parasitic mites and various pathogens , bee populations have been declining for decades and the world is “losing about 40% of colonies every year.”

Beewise Beehomes in a field. (Authorisation)

In the United States, beekeepers lost around 45% of the bee colonies they managed between April 2020 and April 2021 – the second highest annual loss on record, according to the latest report published by the Bee Informed Partnership.

This figure is worrying given that “nearly 90% of the world’s wild flowering plant species depend entirely, or at least in part, on animal pollination, as well as more than 75% of the world’s food crops and 35% of global agricultural land,” according to the United Nations.

In addition, “pollinators contribute to the development of crops that provide biofuels (eg canola and palm oils), fibers (eg cotton), medicines, hay for livestock and food. construction materials. Some species also produce materials such as beeswax for candles, makeup and musical instruments, as well as materials for arts and crafts,” according to the World Bee Project, an initiative based in UK which promotes the integration of various technologies to help save bees.

And so the technology is a much-needed solution to protecting bee populations and helping them thrive, Safra noted.

“Taking care of living beings, caring for them in real time, helps keep them strong and healthy. A robot can do this all day; he does not get tired. Beekeepers cannot deal with bees in real time in the same way. If there is a problem, we won’t know until we inspect the hives. They [les apiculteurs] have to go out into the field – if there are 1,000 hives that are scattered around, they have to look at them to see what’s going on, and often it’s too late because the colony has already collapsed,” he said. .

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Beewise’s automated Beehome next to traditional beehives. (Authorisation)

With the Beehome, beekeepers can take immediate action if something goes wrong, which means “more bees stay alive, there’s more honey and more pollination.” According to the first internal results, colony collapse with the Beehome is reduced to around 10%, Safra had indicated to the Times of Israel.

The company currently employs around 70 people who are passionate about the cause, according to Safra. The latest round of funding, which Beewise says is the largest for an Israeli agtech start-up, brings the company’s total funding to $120 million.

In addition to Wednesday’s investment, Beewise also announced a lighter version of the Beehome with a more efficient bee feeding system and more efficient solar panels, the firm said.

“We are the only company on the planet deploying precision robotics in tandem with the world’s most innovative technologies, including artificial intelligence and computer vision, to save bees,” Safra said in a statement Wednesday. of the firm.

“Our Beewise team is pleased to be backed by an incredible roster of investors for our Series C, investors who understand the dedication, tenacity and passion we show in our mission to save bees and protect bees. ‘reverse the worrying trend of disappearing settlements,’ he added in a statement.

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The interior of the Beehome, an autonomous and automated hive from Israeli startup Beewise that can house up to 24 colonies of bees. (Authorisation)

Safra said Beewise is fulfilling the thousands of orders made by the United States and that with this funding the company “will be able to meet the incredible market demand through increased manufacturing, the development of additional products,” noting that the company also aims to “further improve pollination.”

Daniel Aronovitz, director of Insight Partners, noted that the investment firm had not only funded “a company with a fantastic business model, but which also addresses one of the greatest challenges facing our planet”. .

“We at Insight couldn’t be more excited to have led the largest investment to date in an agtech firm,” Aronovitz continued.

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Beewise attracts $80 million investment for robotic hives

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