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Beyond the Rows is a Monsanto Company blog focused on one of the world’s most important industries, agriculture. Monsanto employees write about Monsanto’s business, the agriculture industry, and the farmer.
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Here for the Bees

Featured Article

By Jerry Hayes
Beeologics Commercial Lead

The Apiculture/ Beekeeping Industry is recognized as a small industry – vital, important, but small.  Not very many companies want to get involved in it as many times research and investment are expensive, with little immediate return that can be projected. Generally beekeepers go to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), universities or private industry looking for help. Sometimes it comes but most of the time it doesn’t. 

Now we have a company committed to ag R&D that acquired Beeologics. They know nothing about honey bees, right? 

Actually, they do. Monsanto knows that honey bees are a key component to successful sustainable agriculture globally. They know that honey bees are responsible for one third of the food we eat. The acres of pollinator-dependent crops are the largest ever in the history of the world and growing along with population increases. Food is more than calories; it is nutrition. And with incomes increasing, there is more and more demand for fruits, nuts, vegetables and berries that enhance a diet nutritionally. 

Monsanto is committed to sustainable agriculture. It makes good business sense to support sustainable agriculture and that’s why they want to use their time, talents and resources to contribute positively to honey bee health. This is not a PR stunt; this is a smart business move to help agriculture globally. 

In the short time I’ve been with Monsanto it is clear to me that my company is spending time and energy on  bee health and also  really wants to listen and collaborate and learn from knowledgeable third parties.  It is really a pleasant  surprise and makes this much more real for me.  

Me, being able (on a small scale) to help this large company filled with smart and committed scientists, to develop  a safe and effective honey bee health products is a great opportunity. I have been in the beekeeping industry for 25+ years and have never seen this type of commitment by a large ag company. I had a great job in Florida as the Chief of the Apiary Section for the Commissioner of Agriculture. The weather was good, the collaboration with the industry was terrific, and I had a great Commissioner to work for. I’ve written the “Classroom” column in the American Bee Journal for 20 + years and wrote a book by the same name, and have served on all sorts of councils, committees and boards. 

And over all those years and all these things, we were always dealing with the lack of resources to control honey bee pests, parasites and diseases. 

So now we have an opportunity to do this. I have my personal neck stretched waaaay outside of my shell. But, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Question my sanity or intelligence but not my motivation.   I appreciate my new employer giving me a chance to bring the two worlds together.

(This post was also published by the American Bee Journal.)

3 Responses to "Here for the Bees"

  1. I learned about you and your move to Monsanto from Brenda Kiessling when I met her at the Fairfax, Virginia 4H fair last week.

    Is Monsanto going to make genetically modified bees and patent them and then sue beekeepers who have non-GMO bees when Monsanto’s GMO bees wander into their fields or hives like they did with farmers who grow non-GMO corn and then Monsanto GMO corn shows up in their fields and Monsanto sues the farmers?

    Is Monsanto going to make beekeeping a monoculture like they are doing with corn and like with corn wipe out the biological diversity of bees? Monoculture crops and species make the entire ecosystem subject to a single point of failure susceptible to wiping out our entire food supply in a single season. Monsanto is the most evil corporation on Earth. Their practices pose a danger to the economy of agriculture, the livelihood of farmers and beekeepers. Their threat to the world food supply is unprecedented and what they are doing poses a threat to the survival of the human species.

    Reply
    • This is what we said when we acquired Beeologics in spetember 2011:

      “Beeologics is focused on biological research. Current projects in its pipeline – including a product candidate being developed to help protect bee health – use a naturally-occurring process to provide targeted pest and disease control.

      “The expertise Beeologics has developed will enable Monsanto to further explore the use of biologicals broadly in agriculture. Monsanto will use the base technology from Beeologics as a part of its continuing discovery and development pipeline. Biological products will continue to play an increasingly important role in supporting the sustainability of many agricultural systems. Both companies expect that their combined research could provide farmers with novel approaches to the challenges they face.”

      We are not genetically modfying bees. We are not wiping out the genetic diversity of bees. For the bee business, we are focused on bee health — finding and developing products to protect bees from parasites and other suspected causes of bee health problems.

      Separately from the bee business, we are using Beeologics technology in broader agricultural applications.

      Reply
  2. I am just entering the fascinating world of beekeeping. Being an entrepreneur and business owner for 30+ years, I immediately notice things related to business models for whatever topic I study. Beekeeping was no exception.

    My first observation was the incredibly small industry size, which translates into a lack of resources for R&D since there is little to no return on investment. Fighting pests, viruses, and diseases in the world of beekeeping is one of those areas that has struggled from this lack of resources.

    So, in my wanderings of bee-related websites, I was pleased to encounter this post. I’m curious though… The date on the post is over 1 1/2 years old. So, I’m going to seek out the website for this company and see what Monsanto and Beelogic have managed to accomplish in that time. Welcome, Monsanto, to the wonderful world of bees!

    Reply

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