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Beekeepers monitoring a beehive

Asking the Experts

July 3, 2018

Suddenly this idea that started as just something to chat about between projects is the focus of our every night and weekend after we finish work for our clients. Over the past week, we’ve turned ourselves into a sort of bee-scientist fan club. As Joe shares more of what he learns with us, and we, in turn, devour it, we find ourselves in awe of these brilliant scientists who are working hard to solve the problem of honey bee decline. Peter Kevan, Jim Amrine, and one name that keeps coming up over and over: Dick Rogers.

We’ve reached an interesting crossroads where we can either abandon this idea or find out if it has potential and move forward. We can’t confirm our own assumptions because we’re not bee biologists. But we don’t think bee biologists necessarily want to hear from software developers.

(Even if we are their biggest fans.)

Still, Joe, being Joe, suggested we should just reach out and ask them. That seems both obvious and crazy — contacting a scientist to ask if your layman’s idea could possibly solve their problem? It’s this presumptuously brilliant, deceptively simple solution.

We mentioned Dick Rogers above. Dick works at the Bayer Bee Care Center and has been researching the varroa for years. So we approached him with an equal mixture of respect and sheepishness and “he’d-never-have-time-to-respond-to-a random-email-from-us” self-doubt.

It felt a little like meeting your favorite director and immediately asking them to read your screenplay.


Oh wait, that’s not the exciting part.

The exciting part is that he thinks our idea is as interesting as we do. It’s hard to convey the sheer excitement and validation of having this giant in the bee community say, “yeah, I think your idea is fantastic, and I’d love to help in any way I can. Let’s set up a time to meet.”

We’re meeting with him soon, and Carissa has been working on a slide deck describing what we’ve learned, and how we think our product can help. Incidentally, this is the first time any of us have created a physical product. There’s so much we don’t know — getting something into the stores is a whole different process than getting an app into the Apple Store.

Internally, we’ve started to describe the project as the “carwash for bees,” which is both a good phrase for our elevator pitch and means some of us are constantly humming this tune.

It seems crazy, but we just might be onto something here.