A CONNEMARA-based start-up has secured €300,000 in funding to market a natural remedy for one of the main fungal blights affecting honeybee colonies.
Advance Science, which is part of a small cluster of businesses in the Inagh Valley Trust, has developed a nutritional supplement that strengthens the colony’s natural resistance to the nosema ceranae fungus, a key factor in the decline in global honeybee populations. The company’s HiveAlive product, which is derived from plant extracts, has been successful in reducing hive losses to the fungus by up to 80 per cent.
The fall-off in the honeybee populations has become a major global issue because of the insect’s central role in pollinating vital food crops.
The fungus, combined with various bee-specific viruses, the use of pesticides and the spread of a bee-targeting mite, has decimated honeybee populations worldwide.
In the past two decades alone, Europe’s bee population has fallen 30 to 50 per cent. In the US, the nosema ceranae fungus has been linked to the phenomenon of “colony collapse disorder”, which has devastated the country’s once-robust honey industry.
Advance Science is to receive €300,000 in funding to further develop its HiveAlive product from the Western Business and Innovation Centre via its Halo Business Angel Partnership programme.
The company, which was established in 2010, plans to use the money to test the product in new export markets such as Spain, Italy and US, where beekeeping is conducted on a much larger scale than here.
The investment will result in 12 new jobs. The company has already received two tranches of funding from Údarás na Gaeltachta and the company’s founders.
“The honeybee pollinates up to one-third of the food we eat and, as a beekeeper myself, I can see first-hand the risks posed to bee colonies,” Advance Science managing director Dara Scott said.