Bee a radio hero: radio module supply solution helps IoT smart hive tech start-up scale up

11 June 2021

BeeHero_sensor in smart beehive
BeeHero_sensor in smart beehive

Bees are crucial to the ecological wellbeing of our planet. They are the world’s arch pollinators, responsible for every third mouthful of food we eat, while ensuring the whole diversity of our plant life.

BeeHero, a California-based precision pollination service, uses cutting-edge technology that ensures the pollination process around almonds lives up to farm standard quality every season. By monitoring hives, it produces stronger, healthier and more productive colonies, while lowering operational costs.

Sensors (which took three years to perfect) are placed in the middle of the hive, a range of data across various parameters is collected, and cutting-edge communications hardware sends this data to the cloud. In this way, BeeHero can detect concerning changes in hive behaviour which may indicate ill health or stress, or a change in hive conditions which threatens the bees’ wellbeing. The beekeepers are alerted and can rapidly address the issues, helping to reduce the mortality rate.

The challenge

Backed by venture capitalists, BeeHero has the capacity to rapidly scale up. Its aim is to go from its current 48,000 hives, the equivalent of 1.5 billion bees, to 100,000 hives during the next eight months. The smart hives have proven to be extremely successful, increasing yields for 70% of major crops by an average of up to 30%, and BeeHero was aiming to site an extra 10,000 of their smart hives.

The challenge that faced BeeHero, however, was not really a high-tech one, but a supply chain one. Ten thousand radio modules, which were robust, reliable and could work in tough environments, were needed, but it appeared that none could be sourced – from anywhere.

Professor Huw Evans, who works at BeeHero, had previous experience in sourcing components from Solid State Supplies, and contacted the electronics distributor experts for their help.

We had retained a relationship over the years, and I was confident that, through their extensive supplier network, Solid State could help us. The team went the extra mile and were able to source the radio modules we needed – something no-one else was able to do. This is testament to the agility and commitment the business has in helping to solve customer challenges.

The solution

BeeHero_Smart Hives in the field
BeeHero_Smart Hives in the field

Through its agile approach, as well as an extensive network of suppliers and contacts built on 50 years of knowledge and experience, the team at Solid State was able to not just source and procure ten thousand radio modules at a time when nobody else could, but turn them around in just two weeks, instead of what would normally have been a three to six months delivery window.

It was an unprecedented situation,” says Matt Cook, Product Marketing Manager at Solid State Supplies. “We knew that it would be a challenge to not just source the modules, but also deliver them in time; however, we were adamant that it was possible, and we proved that we could do what our rivals couldn’t.

As a startup, it was important that the components were sourced in time for BeeHero, not just for its growth trajectory, but also so that it could access grants, and it admits that Solid State was sourcing during a difficult time due to the global pandemic.

Business impact

The radio modules provided by Solid State Supplies have made a significant impact to our business. Without them, the lack of almond pollination could have put the business back 12 months, while missing a season would have meant the loss of crucial data, hindering our ambition of going from fourth largest pollinator in the US to the largest,” says Omer Davidi, CEO & Co-Founder of BeeHero.

The more bees that can be monitored, the more that can be understood about pollination, which in turn means the pollination of almonds can be maximised. Elsewhere, the more sensors available, the greater the drop in the mortality rate of bees and an upturn in pollination.

At a 'crazy' time for sourcing components, we saw hope with Solid State Supplies, and we praise their diligence, reliable supplies, competitive pricing and their ability to 'go the extra mile'.

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