One-line solution summary:
Securing global food supplies by saving the bees utilizing precision robotics, computer vision, and AI
Pitch your solution.
Bees serve as the infrastructure of farming. 30% of global food supplies are pollinated by Bees. Yet every year about 40% of bees die, globally; and not from natural causes (this is sometimes referred to as colony collapse disorder).
Bees cannot survive without our help; and the ones who are saving the bees on an ongoing basis, are commercial beekeepers who grow and manage ~80% of the bees in the world. However, they can only visit and treat their bees once in every few weeks, and therefore can only save ~60% of them (therefore the ~40% colony collapse rate).
At Beewise we developed an autonomous beehive that monitors the bees 24/7, identifies bees' needs, and applies treatment in real-time, in the field. It's as if every bee had her own beekeeper, 24/7, without any human intervention. In our hive, bees survive, thrive, and produce honey and pollinate much more effectively.
What specific problem are you solving?
There are a variety of reasons why Bees are dying in droves all around the world, like climate change, pesticides, diseases, pests, and more. Without help, the honeybee specie is at risk of going extinct. Considering the fact that they are critical and strategic to our global food supplies, this is a global problem and a priority both for private institutions, public institutions, and governments.
Bees are grown and treated in beehives, and scattered in the fields for foraging purposes. They are then "rented" out to farmers for pollination purposes. Because beekeepers keep bees in beehives (150-year-old white wooden boxes), they have to physically visit their hives for inspection and treatment. The frequency such visits happen is once in every three weeks, at best, per given hive. Unfortunately, by the time beekeepers get to their hives, often times they find that some have already collapsed (due to stressors mentioned above).
There are 100 million beehives in the world, and the real unmet demand is for more than 200 million beehives (based on unmet needs of pollination-dependent crops). There is an active, and significant, bees and beekeepers population in any crop-producing country (which is almost every country in the world).
What is your solution?
Our solution is a newly designed beehive that includes precision robotics, computer vision, and AI. Using computer vision we constantly monitor the bees in our device, and our proprietary AI identifies their needs in real-time. By applying existing treatment that beekeepers would (but utilizing precision robotics), we address bees needs in real-time, in the field, without human intervention. Our solution can feed and water bees, treat illnesses and pests, address climate-related issues with an active climate control system (both temperature and humidity), harvest honey (within the device), prevent 100% swarming, and do frame manipulation such as split hives, combine hives, add queen excluders etc. (which is about 95% of what beekeepers do to their hives today).
We are not changing how beekeeping is done; we are simply applying it in real-time with a robotic arm vs a human one. The results are staggering: we've experienced a less than 8% colony collapse vs. the control (over 35%), and therefore with so many more bees alive we have experienced a significant increase in yield of both honey production and pollination. All this while reducing manual labor by 90%.
Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?
Our customer is the commercial beekeeper. Commercial beekeepers manage above 1,000 beehives, and sometimes even as high as 50,000. The biggest one in the world manages almost 100,000 beehives.
By deploying our solution, commercial beekeepers will not lose such a significant amount of their bees (and their revenue accordingly), they will not require such a significant labor force, and they will make more profit than before, even after paying the fees for our service.
There are already over 5 commercial beekeepers that have deployed our solution; 2 of them for over a year. This has dramatically changed the way they operate, and the one common feedback we get from them is: "we're never going back".
Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?Support small-scale producers with access to inputs, capital, and knowledge to improve yields while sustaining productivity of land and seas
Explain how the problem, your solution, and your solution’s target population relate to the Challenge and your selected dimension.
30% of the global food supply is pollinated by bees. Furthermore, 71% vegetables,fruit, seeds and nuts are pollinated by bees. For pollination-dependent crops, it is imperative that they get the optimal amount of pollination. For example, if an almond orchard gets only 50% of the needed pollination, it will grow only ~50% of produce. Today, in most of the world, total hives stock are less than 50% of what is actually needed to optimally grow produce. Just by applying more pollination we can potentially increase yield per land by more than 2X. And save the bees along the way
In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?Beit HaEmek, Israel
What is your solution’s stage of development?Pilot: An organization deploying a tested product, service, or business model in at least one community
Who is the primary delegate for your solution?
Saar Safra, CEO
Which of the following categories best describes your solution?A new technology
Describe what makes your solution innovative.
Our solution is the first in history that deploys a dedicated AI-powered robotic hive, with the purpose of treating bees. We have developed advanced and proprietary AI algorithms specifically dedicated at solving this problem. We have designed unique and dedicated hardware that can manage, grow, and keep bees healthy on an ongoing basis. Every aspect of our solution had to be invented from scratch due to the fact that it had never been done.
Even our business model is innovative (or at least disruptive): we offer the service to beekeepers in a full subscription model, kind of pay-as-you-go model. We don't charge our customer for setup, delivery, hardware, or breakup. There are also no hidden fees whatsoever. We just charge them, $15 per hive (there are 40 hives in our device, which comes down to $600 per device per month).
In our device there is full visibility, 24/7, into the status of the bees and beekeeping practices. There is full transparency and traceability of honey produced and pollination rendered, making it the first device ever that can provide a "quality" stamp, so to speak.
In essence, we are digitizing beekeeping; we are solving bee mortality with a software solution (we see our solution as "software wrapped in tin")
Describe the core technology that powers your solution.
In essence, the hardware we use is mostly off-the-shelf hardware. We do this to lower the cost of the product and to ensure reliability and longevity. The hardware carries out what the software "decides". Therefore, the real innovation here is the AI that identifies and decides the optimal treatment for the bees, at all times. So anytime we need our solution to address a new need we find the bees need, the AI learns it, identifies a solution, and then instructs the "hardware" (robotics) to execute it.
At the core of our solution there is a Convolutional Neural Network that is optimized and trained to identify bees, their frames (honeycombs) and anything in between. This system is reliant on a set of optical sensors, both video and still. Once we digitize the images, we then send it to a Recurrent Neural Network and with the help of ML and predictive analytics we identify the right treatment, or identify new needs to which new treatments will be designed. On top of all this we have a command and control app for the customer to be able to understand everything that is going in their devices, and also control their devices, remotely.
Provide evidence that this technology works.
This device has already been working with a few customers, in-field, and populated with bees. I added a video link to this application that shows one of these devices at an actual customer, with bees and fully autonomous.
Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:
What is your theory of change?
Beekeepers, who manage about 80% of bees, globally, are losing between 35%-45% of their bees, every single year. Because bees are their revenue generating asset, losing ~40% of their bees equates to losing 40% of their revenue. Commercial beekeepers run today bleeding margin businesses; and unfortunately for them there is nothing they can do about it. With our offering, they don't lose as many bees (and as much revenue, respectively). Despite the fact that commercial beekeepers are more of a traditional, even sometimes conservative, buyer, they don't have much choice but to change how they do business. Or soon they won't have a business to manage.
We have signed up commercial beekeepers that manage over 210,000 beehives onto our service, with full terms, because they are so desperate to do something about the bind they are in. We have not delivered devices to them yet (we are still pre-manufacturing at scale), but we see significant and robust demand in the market for a solution that addresses bee mortality.
Select the key characteristics of your target population.
Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?
How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?
We market our solution to businesses (B2B), and so currently we have a total of 5 customers trying out our solution at various capacities.
In one year we will have a total of 13 active customers and in 5 years we will have 423 customers.
I think it is important to note that in 5 years our 423 customers will have deployed over 10,000 devices in the field
What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?
By saving billions of bees, the impact of our solution is significant both on bees, and humans. By saving bees, we enable better pollination services, at lower rates, in turn allowing for increased accessibility to pollinated-dependent foods.
In on year we would have saved over 3 billion bees, and increased pollination by 100%, allowing for a potential increase in produced pollinated-dependent products of up to 7 million tons. This in turn lowers prices for such produce and allows better accessibility to it for price-sensitive communities
What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year and in the next five years?
Distribution and adoption within a traditional and conservative customer base. Disruptive innovations follow a diffusion-curve that is often timely (5-10 years), and crossing the chasm (between early adopters to early majority) is both a challenge and a risk
How do you plan to overcome these barriers?
We are applying an aggressive business-model that is focused on eliminating sales/customer friction. We are offering a pay-as-you-go model, without any upfront costs. By that we are front-loading the risk on ourselves, allowing our customers to "try" our product without much risk. The general idea is to make it really easy and simple for our customer to order our devices and utilize them, and at the same time provide them with significant undeniable value (decreased bee mortality, increased yields, significantly reduced manual labor), allowing them to buy into our solution throughout their portfolio (and by thus unlocking the network effects of our market)
What type of organization is your solution team?For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models
How many people work on your solution team?
13 FTEs (2 PhDs, 3 MSc)
How many years have you worked on your solution?
Why are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?
- We are all mission-driven to save the bees (this is an emphasis throughout the hiring process).
- We have the right talent: experts in ML, AI (RNN, CNN), Predictive Analytics, PhD in Applied mathematics with expertise in Biological Models (published in Nature among others), Physics and optics (PhD), and hardware designers.
- Lead by the CEO, a serial entrepreneur (company #6), with 3 significant prior successes.
- All employees are shareholders and have skin in the game
What is your business model?
We provide our customers with a platform for them to manage, grow and, treat their bees.
We charge for our service using a subscription model, with no other fees whatsoever. We charge $15 per hive per month, and there are 40 hives in our device (totaling in $600 per device per month).
We deliver the device to our customer, and from thereon it is their responsibility to populate it with bees and start treating their bees (along our autonomous programs).
Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, or to other organizations?Organizations (B2B)
Why are you applying to Solve?
We believe that exposure will ease our way into the market. By leveraging the collective brain-power of networks of talent (like the MIT Solve network) we will be able to identify roadblocks faster, and bypass them in a more cost-effective way.
In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?
Please explain in more detail here.
We will need to fund our endeavor until we are profitable, and to do that we will need help with exposure, business model and marketing.
What organizations would you like to partner with, and how would you like to partner with them?
They could potential become strategic partners and customers
- Saar Safra CEO, Beewise