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Honey Bee Feeding

Into the Wild (Bees)

July 23, 2018

Somehow it has only been a month since Joe’s fateful encounter with Kurzgesagt and the weekend lost to peer-reviewed bee research papers (thank you, Google). Even in the genuinely fast-paced world of software development, a month isn’t a long time. But in that month, we have gone from kicking around this maybe-but-probably-not idea to meeting with one of the world’s top bee scientists who works at one of the largest pharma companies in the world.

We’ve even dedicated a Slack channel to the bee project. It’s getting serious.

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been studying Dick Rogers’s work like we were prepping to meet a celebrity. And, really, we were. Not only does this man know everything worth knowing, but in a way, he’s the gatekeeper right now. He’ll tell us whether or not our idea is worth spending more time on. He’ll tell us if there’s really a chance here to create something that will save the bees. At this point, we are invested. We are as passionate about this project as we have ever been about anything.

We hope he doesn’t laugh us all back into Slack.

Spoiler: He’s totally into it.

We were incredibly nervous about meeting him because nothing says “out of your depth,” like trying to explain bee science to a bee scientist. But you cannot imagine how open and receptive he was to our ideas.

We talked a lot about varroa mites and how they operate (and we’ll link some of that research in these posts in case you want to jump down the rabbit hole with us), about what kinds of things bees need to be healthy and happy, and about the decline of the population around the world.

We also talked about why we’re focusing on feral bees instead of targeting our product to beekeepers. We look at it like pandas (hang on, it’ll make sense in a minute). Why save only the pandas in the zoo? They already have human protectors. Wild pandas or, in this case, bees, don’t.

So what if we could find a way to exert downward pressure on the varroa mite population IN THE WILD? What if, by doing so, we could help stop the spread that happens with bee drift?

Dick, in his understated, scholarly way, said that’s a very novel approach: “Huh. Interesting.”

We asked him if we could contact him as our research continues, and he said yes.

He said YES.

You have to understand, this is like Ian McKellan liking your monologue and offering to coach you. Or Serena Williams saying you have a good serve. It’s a big deal.

That is extraordinary.