Jun 11, 2021
By Yi Fu
Beemunity: Protecting Our Pollinators

Beemmunity protects bees from the effects of both lethal and sublethal exposure to pesticides. Their ingestible microsponge technology absorbs all pesticides and allows them to be safely expelled without harm. Beekeepers can simply add this product to their current bee feeding processes to detoxify their bees. This prevents bees from the direct toxic effects of pesticides, and also prevents the bees from becoming immunosuppressed due to constant low-level pesticide exposure. Beemmunity protection leads to healthier bees, strengthening both crop pollination and honey production.

Watch Beemmunity at IndieBio New York Class Two Demo Day

We spoke with Beemmunity Co-founder & CEO James Webb to gain insight into his technology and motivation in building his startup.

What was your inspiration for saving the bees?

I have always been interested in how insects contribute to our natural world and their importance in our food production. And I also get frustrated that the bees are dying. Although people keep on researching that, an effective solution is lacking. 

I luckily found myself in a lab which allows me to explore ideas using functional and useful biomaterials. I’m glad that I could make something happen in that space. 

How do you decide who your first customers are going to be in preparing your technology as a product?

We looked at what is the earliest stage we can put a product out there with the data supporting the functionality of the product. Right now, we are carrying out these colony scale trials and gathering data from that. And the commercial beekeepers are quite sensitive because their hives are their livelihoods. So, we are looking at the consumer market initially. 

Hopefully we can launch some consumer products this year which we are rapidly designing at the moment. And then, early next year, we hope we will gather enough data so that we can put together a good strong package for beekeepers. 

Overall, we got a lot of interest from backyard beekeepers. And we hope that the commercial beekeepers, the large scale beekeepers, can adapt in the pollination season next year; February 2022. 

How do you differentiate from your competitors?

Unlike our competitors, Beemmunity has a naturally-derived solution. Our approach is different from others who attempt to either brace the bee’s physiology for pesticide exposure, or simply deal with the inevitable impacts of exposure. 

Beemmunity directly and specifically detoxifies pesticides, thereby eradicating the issue. It means our approach is far more effective in preventing bee mortality and sublethal effects.

What does the future of your industry look like in 5-10 years?

In the future, we will successfully protect the critical pollinators from pesticides in areas like agriculture when pesticide application is absolutely necessary. 

I also hope technologies, such as this, can reveal how nature can thrive when pesticides are removed from the equation. I hope there will be a reform around pesticide application.

What’s been the most rewarding part of your entrepreneurial journey?

The most rewarding thing definitely is to bring people together and create something cooperatively. It’s amazing what we can achieve together. 

When you bring together people who don’t really know each other, you think goodness what is this going to come to. And then two months down the line, when you look back, you see that you have actually achieved quite a lot. 

Read coverage of Beemmunity’s accomplishments, including more on their technology, here.