Mason bees could soon be helping famers and growers with crop pollination after start-up company, AgriSound, won European funding for a research and development project.
The funding from Eurostars (part of the European Partnership on Innovative SMEs) will see AgriSound working with Swiss sustainable pollination specialists Wildbiene + Partner AG, to harness the mason bees as an alternative to honeybees within orchards.
Each company will further develop commercially deployable mason bee habitats incorporating bio acoustic listening devices. According to AgriSound, a single mason bee can perform a similar level of pollination to 200 honeybees. Due to their solitary lifestyles, they are less susceptible to common diseases which affect beehive colonies but have been under-utilised as commercial pollinators due to a lack of appropriate professional management practices.
Casey Woodward, founder and CEO of AgriSound said, “We’re thrilled to have secured such supportive European funding towards our exciting new technological project to use mason bees as incredibly powerful agricultural pollinators.
“Enabling use of this type of bee in commercial spaces could be a game-changer for crop yielding worldwide, and by securing our first international partnership with Wildbiene we expect to begin trialling the new device in 2024-2025. Wildbiene’s enthusiasm about the mason bees inspires us to understand and care for them together.”
Tom Strobl, founder of Wildbiene, added, “Mason bees will become an increasingly important natural resource to improve fruit yield and quality. We’re fascinated using our highly efficient pollinators and AgTech in tandem to offer an integrated livestock system. Orchard-monitoring becomes key during the short pollination windows and increasingly adverse conditions.”