ApisProtect, which uses Internet of Things (IoT) technology to monitor and help keep honeybee colonies healthy, announced today that it has raised a $1.8 million seed round led by Finistere Ventures and Atlantic Bridge Capital.
Based in Cork, Ireland, ApisProtect places sensors in commercial beehives to measure factors like humidity, temperature, sound and more. This data is transmitted back to ApisProtect where it applies machine learning algorithms to create actionable insights for beekeepers, such as if a queen is still alive, if there is a pest, or if a colony is about to swarm.
The ApisProtect sensor itself is about the size of a VHS cassette and uses a combination of radio networks including cellular and satellite communications to ensure that any beehive can be monitored, no matter how remote. “It can work in any beehive anywhere on earth,” Fiona Edwards Murphy Ph.D., CEO and co-founder of ApisProtect, told me in a phone interview.
As we’ve noted before, bee populations are declining. That is a bad thing since, according to the USDA, “One out of every three bites of food in the United States depends on honey bees and other pollinators. Honey bees pollinate $15 billion worth of crops each year, including more than 130 fruits and vegetables.”
ApisProtect has been in trials since the end of this summer and currently monitors more than six million honey bees in 144 hives across Europe and North America. The company is still working on its business model, but it will most likely be a subscription-based model with little up-front costs.
ApisProtect isn’t the only startup building a bee business. Up in Canada, Nectar has also developed a sensor system to monitor bee activity. Elsewhere in the apiary world, Bee Vector Technology is using bees as precision pesticide applicators.
This is the first fundraise for ApisProtect, which will use the money to open an office in Salinas, CA and scale up as quickly as possible to bring the product to market in 2019. With bees playing such a crucial role in our ecosystem, hopefully the work of ApisProtect and others will generate enough buzz to make a difference.