8 ways the Israeli ‘Start-Up Nation’ is trying to save the bees
From bee-free honey to completely autonomous beehives and artificial pollination, Israelis are buzzing with ideas.
By Naama Barak
Rosh Hashana is upon us, and that means honey on our tables and honeybees on our minds.
It’s no secret that the humble honeybee is in danger. The global bee population is dying at a dizzying rate due to a lethal combination of modern demand and natural stresses such as climate change.
This is a grave concern, for about one third of all plant and plant products that we consume are dependent on bee pollination.
In true Startup Nation style, Israeli individuals and companies are working to mitigate this disaster, employing all means of technology, innovation and out-of-the-box thinking.
Beewise wants to replace traditional, wooden hives with high-tech, autonomous ones. Photo courtesy of Beewise
Traditional beehives require beekeepers to dress up in full hazmat gear, light up a smoker before opening them and then manually feed and water the bees as well as collect the honey. This extensive manual labor means that commercial beekeepers get to each hive only once every few weeks, during which many bees are lost to disease, pests or other problems.
But no more – Israeli startup Beewise has developed an autonomous beehive called Beehome that can house up to 40 bee colonies, or 2 million bees, and take care of their health and upkeep using computer vision, AI and precision robotics. All data is transmitted to the beekeepers via app to make them aware of any problems as they emerge.
A veteran Israeli company that goes back over 35 years, BioBee Biological Systems was a pioneer in natural agricultural products. For natural pollination, it came up with an ingenious solution – utilizing common bumblebees to pollinate plants rather than overburdened honeybees. The company produces these bees, which unlike the more finicky honeybees that require sunlight to complete their jobs can also pollinate plants in cloudy conditions or even in greenhouses. BioBee products are sold across 100 countries.
For those worried that one day honeybees will no longer be able to pollinate crops, Edete’s artificial pollination technology offers a two-stage artificial pollination service resembling the natural work of bees in that it involves distinct processes of collecting and distributing pollen.
Pollen is collected from mechanically harvested flowers, from which the system separates the pollen, stores it and a year later, during the blooming period, distributes it using an artificial pollinator. The company is currently scaling up its solution and piloting it on almond and pistachio trees in Israel and California.
The Israeli Honey Board groups together the 529 licensed beekeepers and their 120,000 hives in the country and provides them with a range of services. These include a collaboration with Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) to provide around 100,000 free seedlings each year that are planted to make up for the loss of open areas and to give the bees a healthy, varied diet. The board also supports research into topics such as the colony collapse disorder (CCD), which is at the root of the bees’ sticky situation.
To read the additional 4 go to, 8 ways the Start-Up Nation is trying to save the bees – ISRAEL21c