Startup creates buzz with unique delivery system: bees

Updated Feb 8, 2016

Pollinators help out the environment a lot, but one Canadian startup has found a new way that bees can aid in plant health.

Bee Vectoring Technologies’ goal is to target the market for pesticides and fertilizers with a biopesticide that is spread by, you guessed it, bees.

Bee-collecting-pollen-010 copyBVT uses a hive of bumblebees that is designed so that the bees have only one exit, causing them to pass by a tray of organic pesticide and fertilizer powder.

The specialized powder sticks to the bees’ hairy legs and is then spread from flower to flower. This form of transmission is efficient, as bees are only visiting the individual flowers while foliar sprays must be diffused throughout the general area of the targeted plants.

The concept of bee-vectoring plays off the fact that bees already play a part in spreading some plant diseases, such as fire blight, and now they can contribute to spreading a biological control that protects plants from pathogens instead.

As an added and obvious bonus, the technology requires the use of pest- and disease-control agents that are safe for bees.

“The way I see it is that what’s harmful to the bees, in all likelihood, isn’t very good for us either, so why are we using it?” BVT’s chief executive, Mark Collinson, told Modern Farmer.

According to BVT’s website, there are multiple reasons why bumblebees in particular were chosen as the perfect pollinator. Along with being less aggressive and having stronger bodies, bumblebees can make a 1,000 trips a day while carrying 10 times more pollen and inoculant.

Although the company is still developing, it has been researching this concept for 20 years and has had eight years of successful field trials. BVT says it has seen increased crop yields in the field tests, along with greater pesticide effectiveness.

BVT’s tray dispenser and unique inoculant are still patent-pending, but Collinson is confident BVT eventually will become a major part of integrated pest management systems.

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