Beelife: Provençal and Tunisian start-ups develop smart beehives

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Beelife: Provençal and Tunisian start-ups develop smart beehives
26 October 2018 / Food Industries, Internet of Things, Start your business

Beelife has become a real collaborative project within the Cleantech Arbois-Méditerranée nursery.

Created in summer 2018 by a team of entrepreneurs from Aix-en-Provence and a Tunisian vet who were concerned about the disappearance of bees, Beelife developed smart hives. But don't imagine it’s just a simple gadget. On the contrary, by heating the beehives, this technology allows you to remove varroa mites thereby increasing the productivity of bees. This groundbreaking Provençal innovation caught the eye of organizers of the Consumer Electronic Show and its developers will fly out to Las Vegas to exhibit their product there in January 2019.

Naoufel Dridi, a vet from Bizerte, is passionate about bees. He has 250 beehives in Tunisia where he takes part in developing cosmetics and food supplements and in research on bee venom. In 2017, he crossed paths with Pascal Nuti, Managing Director of Solable, a small to medium-sized company from Aix-en-Provence that designs environmentally-friendly energy solutions. They first started working together in Tunisia with Bioverte, a company specialized in medicinal plants and beehive products. Naoufel Dridi and Pascal Nuti are now creating new beehives on the North coast of the Mediterranean with Beelife, a start-up aimed at developing and selling “CoCoon”, their new product. “I met entrepreneurs in Provence who were determined to protect bees and were prepared to pool their skills to do so. Beelife is a project that is very much based on teamwork,” explained Dr. Dridi. Having spent the summer collecting pollen, eight start-ups based in Provence developed “CoCoon”, an isolating beehive prototype made of eco-responsible and connected wood fiber.

An innovation to preserve bees

Hybrid photovoltaic panels installed on the roof of the beehive supply the electronic components with power and increase the temperature until it is high enough to eradicate the varroa, mites that wipe out bees.

“Beekeepers no longer need to use chemical products. They can simply press a button, which triggers a mechanism that heats up the hive to kill the mites without endangering the bees. Instead of fighting for their lives, the insects can focus their energy on production. We tested the prototype on swarms this summer. The results were consistent with our expectations, revealing a significant drop in the mortality rate of bees and a 30% increase in honey and pollen productivity,” said Naoufel Dridi, Founding President of Beelife. “Beekeeping is one of Solable’s environmental protection and social projects. We are developing technology for beekeepers,” explained Naoufel Dridi, who was persuaded by his partner to move to the Aix-Marseille-Provence region.

From the Cleantech Arbois-Mediterranean nursery to the CES in Las Vegas

Beelife is growing in the dynamic environment of the Cleantech ecosystem in Provence, in the heart of the Technopole de l’Environnement Arbois-Méditerranée business incubator. Assisted by Provence Promotion from the moment it was searching for premises as well as in the legal and administrative procedures involved in occupational mobility and creating a business, Beelife received support from Bpfifrance for its innovation and a loan from Initiative Pays d’Aix.

This innovation caught the interest of the CES of Las Vegas. Beelife presented “CoCoon” at the largest international show dedicated to new technologies with the aim of marketing it in the second quarter of 2019 in France and in Europe. Promising a return on investment in just two years for beekeepers, these hives designed to protect bees should also be of interest to individuals and companies who want to start producing honey as an eco-responsible initiative.

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