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Business spotlight: AEROBOTICS

Welcome to our new Business Spotlight blog series! We’ll be using this space to highlight some of the amazing businesses—large and small—that have adopted a honeybee hive with us. At Honeybee Heroes, we’re big believers in supporting local and family-run businesses. All of the businesses we talk about here are South African businesses who are working in their communities to make the world a better place, and we can’t wait to introduce you to them.


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Aerobotics is making waves in the South African agricultural space and beyond. Founded in 2014, and now with more than 80 employees worldwide, this innovative company uses high resolution visual, thermal, and multispectral data which they collect by drone to monitor orchards and crops for farmers and leading industry consultants. They produce statistics on plant counts, gaps in orchards, growth habits, and pick up on stress caused by climate, pest and disease pressures, among a myriad of other high-value insights, helping farmers to optimise their cultivation methods, address pertinent challenges, reduce uncertainty during the growing season, and ultimately increase their yields.


The company services both small and large-scale commercial farmers and farming groups who are cultivating a variety of perennial crops, including citrus, apples, macadamia, almonds, pecans, table grapes and wine vineyards, avocados, mangoes, stone fruit, blueberries, and more. A proudly South African born company, their head office is in Cape Town’s De Waterkant area, with additional offices dotted around the world, including Los Angeles, Australia and Portugal. This doesn’t restrict them to servicing farms in just those areas though, and Aerobotics partners with existing drone pilot networks across the globe in most major agricultural regions previously inaccessible, providing an important service to more farms around the world than ever before.


The main goal for Aerobotics, says Ken Treloar, Aerobotics’ General Manager for Nuts and Grapes in Southern Africa, is to “help feed the World by taking a very traditional industry like agriculture and marrying it with precision technology, machine learning and high-end data analysis.”


Ken was the one who discovered Honeybee Heroes and brought the idea of adopting a honeybee hive back to his team. Many of Aerobotics’ clients have beehives on their properties, and the company is currently working on incorporating beehive placement and commentary into their mobile scouting app, which pairs with their data analytics platform (researchers have already been using the system to study how placing a hive within a certain distance to crops or differing cultivars affects pollination and yields), so all in all, adopting a hive felt like a natural fit.


“Supporting Honeybee Heroes aligns so much with what we’re doing,” says Ken. “We’re big fans of regenerative and sustainable agricultural practises here, so this just felt like a natural thing for our team to get involved in and to support.”


Since Aerobotics adopted their hive, the team has decked out their Cape Town office with posters about their hive, and they’ve got Honeybee Heroes honey available for staff to use for that perfect cup of tea. They also put the other products from our adoption kit in the office for everyone to read, use and enjoy.


“It has certainly added to the excitement and energy around the office,” Ken says. “A lot of us are very passionate about biodiversity and the environment, and helping the bees within this industry and also from a personal perspective.”


And just a few weeks ago, we were able to give the Aerobotics team the best news: a swarm has moved into their hive! Right now, their bees are busy building comb, strengthening colony numbers, and settling into their new home on our farm.


Ken hasn’t been able to visit the hive yet, but he is planning a Honeybee Hero roadtrip for the marketing team. “It’s great for the bees,” he says, “and it’s also great for us because we get to share how we support the industry indirectly outside of mainstream channels, in a way that resonates with clients and supporters alike.” We can’t wait to have you visit, Aerobotics team!


Ken says that organisations like Honeybee Heroes give him hope for the future of agriculture and food security, but at the end of the day, there’s someone else with a big role to play in securing that future: the consumer.


“The prospect of a better future really comes down to the mindset of the consumer. If we visit the supermarket and we don’t care about the environment, we won’t make choices that will help it survive and thrive. The average consumer simply doesn’t want to care much about where their food comes from, including their honey, which is sad. They just don’t care to know. This needs to change. Oftentimes, we want to know that our eggs are free-range, or that some things are gluten free, organic, or vegan, but it stops there. We all need to start taking responsibility for our food choices, and know more about the food we eat and create a demand for something better. Items that are better for us and better for the environment. A big part of that is buying ethically-sourced, locally grown products–and that includes honey!”


In the long run, Ken says, it would be amazing if all honey around the world had QR codes on the bottle for traceability, so one could see exactly where in the world it comes from, by whom it was produced, and what plants were nearby that hive. But for now, Ken says, buying local fynbos honey from a like-minded organisation is the best way to start.We couldn’t agree more!


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Do you own or work at a business that might be interested in adopting a honeybee hive? Check out the Adopt a Hive tab on the menu above or shoot us an email at hello@honeybeeheroes.com to learn more.



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