LOS ANGELES — While bees are not typically considered vital in the growing of strawberries, a new study from The Cal Poly Strawberry Center and Beeflow will explore the use of managed honeybees in strawberry pollination. The first-of-its-kind research funded by the California Strawberry Commission (CSC) and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) hopes to harvest many results, including reduction of food waste by up to one-third.
“We are interested to learn when and how often honeybees choose to visit California strawberries (vs other available flowers) when beehives are intentionally placed into growers’ fields” said Sarah Zukoff PhD, The Cal Poly Strawberry Center. “We hope that this work will highlight the important role that bees can have in California strawberry production,” said Angelita De la Luz PhD, Beeflow. “The results will help growers produce more with less, while fostering a food system that is more in harmony with nature.”
Six organic strawberry growers in Oxnard, Santa Maria and Watsonville will work with researchers in their fields beginning this September. The year-long study, a partnership between the CSC and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, could substantially decrease food waste, improve shelf life and reduce pesticide use. Combined, the layered benefits would exponentially improve farmer profits.
Beeflow is one of the first global companies to generate and apply scientific knowledge to bee behavior and pollination. The research – like this study with The Cal Poly Strawberry Center – aims to change the paradigm in pollination and improve crop yields. The results from the study are expected at the conclusion of the 2023 growing season.
About California Strawberry Commission
The California Strawberry Commission represents more than 300 strawberry farmers, shippers, and processors, all working together to advance strawberry farming for the future of our land and people. Commission programs create opportunities for success through groundbreaking programs focused on workforce training, strawberry production research, and nutrition research. Through science-based information and education, it delivers the good news about sustainable farming practices that benefit the health of people, farms, and communities.
Beeflow is a biotech startup company that leverages scientific knowledge and technology to improve the impact of ecosystem services in agriculture. Beeflow creates and manages pollination programs for farmers which increase crop yields by up to 60 percent. The company combines scientific knowledge of crop pollination, bee biology & behavior and chemical ecology with proprietary technologies including molecules that help train bees to pollinate specific crops and a plant-based bee diet that enhances bees’ immune system. This novel approach to pollination management allows growers to produce more with less. Based in California and with operations across the US West Coast, Mexico, Peru and Argentina, Beeflow closed an $8.3M Series A in May 2021 with Ospraie Ag Sciences, Future Ventures, Vectr Ventures, Jeff Wilke (former CEO of Worldwide Consumer at Amazon), SOSV and others. Beeflow’s team of experts includes biologists, ecologists, entomologists, agronomists, and entrepreneurs. For more information about Beeflow, please visit www.beeflow.com.