In this episode of “The Business of Blueberries,” host Kasey Cronquist, president of the USHBC and the North American Blueberry Council (NABC), is joined by Itai Kanot, COO and co-founder of BeeHero. Kanot is the son of the largest commercial beekeeper in Israel, and that background ultimately led him to co-found BeeHero in 2017. He shares about bee health, pollination and how technology can help improve blueberry production.
“We will go to a farmer and say, ‘OK, you’re going to pay per acre not per hive. Because everything else that you’re doing is per acre, right? You calculate the water per acre, you calculate your potassium that you put in the ground per acre and everything is per acre. So we’re going to charge per acre. Now you choose how many frames of bees, not how many hives, because that doesn’t mean anything. I can bring you boxes, but what’s in the box? So how many frames of bees do you want per acre?’” – Itai Kanot
“I know that in many places with blueberries, they are actually looking at how many brood frames are in there. And that’s a pretty smart thing to do because … brood is the main reason for bees to want to bring proteins into the colony. Brood needs a lot of protein in order to develop. And protein comes from pollen. So when you have hives or colonies that are packed with brood, they have a bigger driver to go and get pollen. And so these are harder working colonies.” – Itai Kanot
“It’s important to be able to assess what you’re getting, because pollination is such an important part of the food production process. You can do everything right, but if you got bad bees this year, your yields are going to be lower, and you’ll have no idea what you’ve done wrong.” – Itai Kanot
Topics covered include:
- Kanot’s experience on his family’s bee operation in Israel and the journey he has taken to become the largest pollination provider in the U.S.
- The nuances of bee populations and pollination for blueberry producers.
- The unique BeeHero business model and how it impacts their clients and the technologies they have access to.
The Blueberry Crop Report is an update on crop conditions and markets throughout North and South America. In this episode, you’ll hear from Ken Patterson in Florida, Brandon Wade in Georgia, and Neil Moore in North Carolina. This was recorded on April 27, 2022.
We know it’s vital to meet our audiences where they are. Last week, USHBC took that literally as we celebrated Earth Day on campus at NC State University. This served two important audiences – foodservice and consumers – to drive awareness, interest and demand for blueberries for the foodservice audience. USHBC and regional growers presented blueberry bushes to NC State University’s Agroecology Education Farm, a teaching farm where students learn where their food comes from. And we talked about varieties, growing practices and sustainability with students and the farm staff.