Bee Corp. Closes on Series A Funding for Hive-Monitoring Software
Bloomington, IN-based agtech startup the Bee Corp. announced this week that it has closed on a Series A investment led by Village Ventures’ Jane Martin. Elevate Ventures, High Alpha’s Scott Dorsey, and angel investors also contributed to the round.
Wyatt Wells, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Bee Corp., declined to discuss financial details of the funding round, but a June securities filing indicates the company has at least raised $360,000.
Wells describes Martin as an active Bloomington investor and says she was also an early mentor to the company, encouraging it to enter Indiana University’s Building Entrepreneurs in Software and Technology (BEST) competition, where it went on to win the $100,000 grand prize in 2016. That provided enough seed money to officially launch. The BEST competition is also where the team first met Dorsey.
“He had been familiar with us, so it was great to reach out to him and have him be interested in investing,” Wells says.
Bee Corp. has created Internet of Things software that monitors beehives in real time and sends alerts to the hives’ keepers if there’s a problem. It’s lead product, Queen’s Guard, closely tracks the queen’s health and her brood production. A sensor placed inside the hive communicates with a solar-powered modem nearby, which in turn transmits the hive data to a secure database in the cloud. If the software’s algorithm determines something hinky is going on, it sends an alert to the hive’s owner.
We think of the queens as the rulers of beehives, hence the phrase “queen bee” to describe a sort of alpha female. However, Wells says it’s actually the worker bees that hold all the power. It’s their job to keep an eye on the queen and keep the temperature steady to incubate the hive’s next generation of bees.
If the workers become unsatisfied with the queen or she’s in bad health, they can kill her off and create a new queen—and that’s a big problem for beekeepers, Wells says. When the temperature of a hive drops, that can signal that the queen is not in good health and the workers are about to unseat her.
“It’s very detrimental to that year’s production,” he explains. “As soon as the queen is dead, it’s really important that beekeepers quickly install the new queen themselves.”
Wells says that Bee Corp. is currently monitoring 75 hives in five states. “We’re actually saving customers’ hives,” he says. “We’ve already saved eight in about three months, which is really exciting. We sent an alert, it was right, and the beekeeper was able to take action in time.”
Wells says Bee Corp. plans to spend its new capital on “honing the tech side”—hiring another full-time data scientist, improving the predictive analytics, and adding data points to track—as well as sales and marketing outreach.
“In the coming year, we want to get our hardware into more hives and figure out how to scale,” he adds.