Posted on June 5, 2020
World Environment Day (WED) is celebrated on June 5 every year, and is the United Nations’ principal vehicle for encouraging awareness and action for the protection of our environment. Each year, WED has a new theme that major corporations, NGOs, communities, governments and all celebrities worldwide adopt to advocate environmental causes. The theme for this year’s World Environment Day is Biodiversity and the campaign is “Time for Nature”.
For this occasion, Berytech spoke to Nagi Abdelnour and Yazid Boustani, co-founders of TheBeeHaus startup, currently enrolled in our Agrytech Accelerator Program. TheBeeHaus is an online platform that allows beekeepers to monitor, track bee progress and optimize honey production, as it is connected to the on-land smart mobile apiaries.
As we focus on biodiversity, we cannot but highlight the interdependency of biodiversity and bees. The loss of biodiversity puts pressure on bees putting them at risk of finding sufficient, balanced high-quality food, while bees and pollination are important factors to ensure continuity and biodiversity.
Bee populations are declining in abundance due to intensive farming practices, excessive use of chemicals and high temperatures caused by climate change. The decline of bee populations poses a threat to global agriculture. In the middle of this, is the beekeeping industry, which remains relatively conventional as beekeepers have little access to knowledge and tools to protect and propagate their industry.
In comes TheBeeHaus, a Lebanese startup in the Berytech Community that is offering technology for beekeepers to monitor apiaries, manage the business and optimize their honey production while respecting and enriching the environment.
Nagi Abdelnour, an Architect by profession and a fabAcademy ‘19 graduate, is passionate about gardening, design and technology. He found in Yazid Boustani the perfect partner to launch TheBeeHaus. Yazid has an inherited background in agriculture and beekeeping. He uses his beehives for cross-pollination and personal honey consumption.
With TheBeeHaus, Nagi and Yazid are aiming to become leaders of remote apiary solutions in the MENA region.
The idea for TheBeeHaus sparked during a family lunch in Summer 2019, with a discussion on how to integrate technology in the beekeeping industry, recalls Nagi. “We got interested in this subject and attended a beekeeping course in September 2019. In this course, we discovered the fascinating world of bees with all their discipline, life cycle and benefits from one side and all the problems and challenges they are facing from another side.”
Bees are the most important being on our planet. As pollinators, bees play a part in every aspect of the ecosystem. They support the growth of trees, flowers and other plants, which serve as food and shelter for creatures large and small. Bees contribute to complex, interconnected ecosystems that allow a diverse number of different species to co-exist.
“One third of the food we consume depends on bees. Without them, our favorite crops would disappear, and our plates would be empty. Yet the world faces the problem of decreasing bee populations,” explains Nagi who has also discovered the challenges in both beekeeping methods and honey production.
Meanwhile, beekeepers are still using traditional ways in their daily operations to solve their production problems. They suffer from the lack of time in managing apiaries which is labor-intensive work, difficulty in controlling pests with little information on bee pests. The lack of knowledge resources makes them continue to operate on a diminutive scale while using chemicals toxic to their environment. Honey is subject to increasing falsification as consumers lack awareness on the benefits, constitution and quality of the produced honey.
“Lacking information, and depending on their flair and intuitive prediction, the beekeepers in the MENA region are still using the same old techniques and practices to solve modern challenges, missing by that the opportunity for better production, better quality and consequently better returns on investment. TheBeeHaus will introduce the technology in the beekeeping industry to meet modern challenges and adapt to the digital era,” confirms Nagi.
TheBeeHaus provides an IoT solution for the beekeeping industry to monitor, manage and optimize honey production. The startup combines technology with beekeeping expertise in order to better understand the behavior of bees and make relevant calculated decisions. Its products and services aim to help beekeepers monitor each hive in their apiary and take the correct action at the right time. Recorded actions will help the beekeepers better manage honey business operation and increase productivity. Stored and analyzed data will help beekeepers optimize and forecast future harvesting.
TheBeeHaus applied to the Agrytech Accelerator Program and joined the first phase of the program in October 2019. They worked on their first prototype in December 2019 and will have developed their MVP with the mobile application by end of May 2020.
“Besides the fact that being enrolled with Berytech in the Agrytech Program allowed us to be surrounded by a great and supportive community, their team helped us develop and organize our idea in a short period of time and made us more focused and aware of the market needs and problems,” speaks Nagi of his experience at Berytech. “It is a very enriching experience on a personal level . Coming from a technical and artistic background, I learned the complementary sides of a business such as marketing, sales, finance and how to raise capital to transform an idea into a successful startup.”
Joelle Atallah – Investment Specialist under the ACT Smart Innovation Hub Initiative, is confident that TheBeeHaus are on their way to fulfill their vision and become the leaders in remote apiary solutions in the MENA region. “Yazid and Nagi are genuine environmentalists, passionate about helping beekeepers, and determined to take the beekeeping industry to the next level through leveraging technology. They are fast-learners and very committed to the program, they always seem ready to develop their business, whether that means learning a new business concept or skill or pitching in front of a new audience.”
“The team is extremely committed and driven on all aspects, from product design and innovation to the usage of the Berytech Fab Lab for prototyping and testing, to finance and marketing,” confirms Salah Awad – Deputy Program Director. “They are approaching beekeepers through webinars and calls, signing MoUs and letters of intent securing their MVP validation in the market.”
“We want to modernize and standardize the beekeeping industry by using technology to monitor, manage and optimize honey production for more transparency, more quantity, better quality and better value, while saving the environment,” concludes Nagi. The solution will be ready for field testing in the coming 2 months.
2020 is a critical year for biodiversity. It’s a year of crucial decisions for planet and people, and all other forms of life on Earth. While 2020 also concludes the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity, the scientific community continues to sound the alarm on global biodiversity breakdown. Living in harmony with nature – a goal world leaders have set for 2050 – cannot be achieved unless we stop the loss of the planet’s biodiversity by 2030. This leaves us with a decade for action, which will start with the 2020 United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity in October in Kunming, China and the design of a new 10-year framework for biodiversity. World Environment Day celebrations will help build momentum and rally the world community behind a more ambitious and robust framework that can lead to significant change. WED-2020-Working-Brief
The Agrytech Accelerator Program
Through the third edition of the Agrytech Accelerator Program and with support from the Kingdom of The Netherlands, Berytech continues to source the top startups with disruptive innovations in the Agri-Food sector and provide them with the adequate technical and business resources as well as community support to scale their ideas into successful businesses with global impact.
Berytech developed the Agrytech accelerator as a yearly program which includes a validation of market phase over two-months, an acceleration phase – where the startups work for 4 months on building their minimum viable product (MVP) in order to get traction, and finally, a 6-month incubation and growth phase, from which they graduate investment-ready, and with matching capital. Learn more about the Agrytech Accelerator Program.