Belgian retailer Colruyt Group is placing beehives on its own farming land to map out the biodiversity in the environment and presence of pollutants.
The health of the soil and environment will be measured by analysing the pollen collected by the bees and soil samples.
The impact of actions to improve the quality of the environment can also be assessed with this method, and 'best practices' can be identified.
The project is a collaboration with BeeOdiversity for AB InBev's 100+ Accelerator programme, of which Colruyt Group is the European partner.
BeeOdiversity is a Belgian start-up supplying tools and advice to increase biodiversity and reduce pollutants in the environment and the soil.
The first results of the project are expected by June, and improvement actions will be defined at the end of the year.
Three-quarters of food crops completely or partially depend on pollination by natural pollinators to be able to form edible fruits or seeds.
In early April, BeeOdiversity installed beehives near the Colruyt Group plots in Moustier. It allows the bees to fly out (up to 1.5 km on average) and act as natural drones to collect pollen in their hives for eight months.
As soon as the temperature exceeds 12° Celsius, the bees begin to invade the environment. When the temperature exceeds 15° Celsius, the bees are at their best.
They gather billions of pollen samples containing the DNA of plants (trees, bushes and herbs), as well as pollutants.
Colruyt Group claims the results of the analyses will allow a targeted approach, in terms of agricultural practices, the organisation of field edges as well the environment.
"We need sufficient biodiversity for a good ecosystem to produce food. With this project, we want to create more awareness regarding biodiversity to work together with all stakeholders on a more biodiverse environment," said Saskia De Block, responsible for agriculture at Colruyt Group.
Michael van Cutsem, CEO and co-founder of BeeOdiversity added, "The qualitative and quantitative data collected by our bees will be shared with the main stakeholders, such as farmers, to allow them to take targeted actions to preserve their means. [...]
"The collaboration with Colruyt Group is a fine example of a multi-stakeholder project for change. Moreover, with its Eco-score system, Colruyt Group allows us to plant flower meadows in many Belgian municipalities to preserve pollinators."
© 2023 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest supply chain news. Article by Robert McHugh. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.