INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis-based The Bee Corp is continuing testing of its hive grading technology with new crops. The startup says it has launched pilot tests of Verifli, which uses infrared imaging and data analytics to determine beehive strength, for use during blueberry pollination season, in collaboration with Michigan State University.
Verifli was originally developed for almond growers who use bees for pollination. In April, The Bee Corp announced a pilot test of the technology for sunflower pollination in almond fields in California.
The company is partnering with MSU entomology professors Rufus Isaacs and Meghan Milbrath, along with graduate student Lauren Goldstein for the pilot project. Isaacs leads the university’s Berry Crops Entomology program and Pollination Ecology, which focuses on studying the biology and management of certain insects in blueberries and other berry crops.
The Bee Corp says Verifli can use the thermal signature of bees within their hive to determine colony population, which in turn can allow growers to determine whether their hives are strong enough to pollinate their crops.
“We’re excited for this opportunity to introduce Verifli to more crop growers whose success relies on securing strong hives for pollination,” said Ellie Symes, chief executive officer of The Bee Corp. “Though they pay less per hive than almond growers, other growers who rent bees still deserve to know what they’re paying for. This is one of several pilot studies we’re conducting this year to understand the challenges of expanding Verifli into new crops. We’re eager to introduce the value of IR hive grading to more growers who seek to optimize pollination.”
Symes founded The Bee Corp along with Chief Marketing Officer Wyatt Wells while they were students at Indiana University. The company shifted from its original focus of preventing hive loss in 2019 to determining hive strength with the launch of Verifli.
In a March interview with Inside INdiana Business, Wells said expanding the technology for use with different crops was the next step in the company’s growth.