Updated: Mar 10
You’ve heard we have to save the bees, but can bees help us save the planet? That’s the mission of BeeOdiversity, a company that is using bees to track environmental quality and biodiversity in precise detail over large areas. So how does it work?
We all know that bees are pollinators because they transfer pollen from plant to plant, helping them reproduce. Researchers at BeeOdiversity developed the process for analyzing the same pollen to determine incredible amounts of information about the environment, and the analytic and communication tools to make this data available to communities, companies, and others. They work with bees to gather pollen over a wide area and then analyze that pollen to create a snapshot of environmental quality, biodiversity, and related action opportunities in that area. The bee pollen is collected using a carefully quality-controlled scientific collection process that was developed over several years to ensure representative samples throughout a time period and no contamination from outside sources; i.e. not just a random sample.
A colony of bees can collect pollen samples from 4 billion different plants, covering an area up to 700 hectares, in just one year. That’s a lot of data! And it allows BeeOdiversity to cost effectively gather really useful information. That’s because the pollen contains genetic information from all the plants in the area and important indicators of pollution, including parts-per-million concentrations of over 516 pesticides. For example, by analyzing the pollen they can tell you the number and type of plant species present in the area visited by the bees. They can also determine the type, concentration, and impact of industrial and agricultural pollution. All from looking at the pollen collected by a bee colony!
BeeOdiversity and local partners have used their bees to detect the presence of pesticides that were not known to exist within an area. The tool is also useful for detecting the presence of invasive species and ascertaining how widespread their presence is. With that information collected, BeeOdiversity also recommends interventions to improve the situation and can then monitor to see if the situation improves. They can help direct you to the source of the pollution or the area where the invasive species are most concentrated. This same data and monitoring is now being used by private companies to monitor and improve their environmental impact and corporate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting.
BeeOdiversity, which originated in Europe, recently completed an extensive analysis in the Klamath Falls area. Getting a better understanding of the environmental factors in this area is incredibly important for the entire Klamath region. At a low cost, BeeOdiversity was able to collect data regarding the presence of pesticides, heavy metals, and invasive species, all without having to step foot on anyone’s property who didn’t want them there. EPIC and our partners can now use this information in our advocacy and focus our efforts where they are needed most.
If you are interested in learning more about BeeOdiversity or developing a project to learn more about the environmental factors impacting your area, visit their website at beeodiversity.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.