Bee Vectoring Technology (BVT), a Canadian-based research company, recently developed and commercialized a new crop protection solution that uses bumblebees to deliver organic biopesticides to flowering food crops.
The BVT system works by having bumblebees walk through a natural, proprietary mix of powders in a specialist dispenser tray before leaving their hive and delivering spores of organic inoculant to each plant they visit during their natural pollination patterns.
According to BVT, the process has been through extensive field testing over the last decade, is 100% natural and harmless to both bees and humans, uses no water, and can increase crop yields by 20% to 50% and increase shelf life.
In October, BVT opened the doors of its Ontario-based, 7,000-square-foot state-of-the-art production and research facility. The facility will produce up to $100 million annually in products used within the company’s organic pesticide systems. BVT has raised approximately $4.2 million over the last six months to fund the build-out of the facility and to accelerate sales and marketing.
The development of Bee Vectoring’s revolutionary dispenser system began nearly 15 years ago. While working on the company’s biocontrol product that controls pathogens and protects high-value crops, Dr. John Sutton encountered issues regarding product delivery to crops that were in bloom. Through the recommendation of a colleague, Sutton contacted Peter Kevan, a bee expert. The collaboration of Sutton and Kevan would later result in Bee Vectoring’s sustainable solution that both increases productivity within the agricultural market, while removing a negative impact on the environment.
“BVT enables crop control through pollination without the adverse consequences of spraying chemicals,” says Michael Collinson, President and CEO of Bee Vectoring Technologies.
“BVT was established with a view to providing effective protection of flowers against disease organisms and insect pests, which is critical for achieving high yield and quality in many crops.”
BVT’s inoculum dispenser system is incorporated into the lid of commercial bumblebee hives. The dispenser is a removable tray that contains a powdered form of the inoculant crop control and a mixture of products that allow the bees to pick up the product on their way out of the hive. When the bees come into contact with the flowers, they deposit a tiny amount of the Vectorite powder on every plant that they visit.
“We have intellectual property rights and patents pending on three principal issues: the delivery system which is the hardware, the powder, which is the vectorite, and our own biocontrol, which we call CR7,” says Collinson.
“The complete system increases yield, produces a higher-quality product, and increases and improves shelf life without the use of chemicals and water. The result is going to be better for the environment.”
A recent feature in New Scientist offers more detail on BVT.