Fast, dependable, meticulous. Are bees the ultimate data aggregators? We talk to Loic Cutsem, who heads up international expansion and partnerships of BeeOdiversity, which has, over the past ten years, built and applied its bee-based environmental monitoring system to support action based on the impact and biodiversity data collected by bees.
Based on internationally renowned expert Dr. Bach Kim Nguyen’s Ph.D. work on the demise of the bee and the loss of biodiversity, Cutsem transformed this approach into a business model to help actors in the private and public sectors become leaders in biodiversity.
Biomonitoring scaled through bees
Cutsem explains “bees can serve as really interesting bioindicators” and that using bees as “data drones” to assimilate granular localized data about pesticides, plant biodiversity, heavy metals, and pollutants is perfectly scalable with the help of trained beekeepers.
Samples from the nectar and pollen of the billions of flowers and plants in a bee’s 700-hectare territory allow for above ground insights while soil DNA and plant DNA insights and metrics can be used to generate tailored recommendations and adapted actions for stakeholders to interface with nature in a more complimentary way.
Creating value with and for nature
Cutsem explains that although decarbonization and risk frameworks were well established ten years ago when BeeOdiversity started, “we’ve been patient, and we’ve definitely seen more momentum picking up in the last one or two years now, and we really feel nature and biodiversity is becoming what carbon has been for the last ten years…companies are increasingly aware of the risks and opportunities.”
Noting that although they are looking to solve a key gap between giving a local approach a global stage, they are still filling in valuable metric-based gaps in nature tech.
Today BeeOdiversity’s clients are in the industries of real estate, construction, agrifoods, energy, cities and municipalities, and anyone who depends on nature for products or services. Cutsem postulates that after seeing the turnout from the private sector at the recent UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal (COP 15), which ended in a landmark biodiversity agreement akin to the Paris Agreement, means that the interest and innovation in nature-based metrics to meet disclosure mandates has only just begun.
The future of bees in nature tech
Cutsem says that public authorities have a key role in sourcing nature-positive solutions through policies, frameworks, and regulations, but ultimately, much of the onus falls on consumer citizens as buyers and activities to drive the agenda forward.
As the field of nature tech goes, Cutsem says his message to how students and public actors can ready themselves to be part of a global transition is to start building their bioengineering muscles and go beyond the carbon neutral agenda. Instead, he recommends looking towards the biodiversity and nature agenda as it will increasingly present risks and opportunities.
Interested to learn more? Listen to the full episode now on Spotify!