Equipped with a bigger team, more robust technology and 3 years of lessons learned, we went into our fourth almond pollination season this February with greater confidence and loftier expectations than ever before. Our optimism was a result of the wide-ranging improvements we built last year across all areas of the company.
Of the many improvements we developed last year, two items had the greatest impact on this season’s success: image analysis pipeline optimizations and a rock-solid hive strength model. Before 2021, improving the accuracy of our hive strength model was the primary focus of our R&D teams. Without an accurate model, nothing else mattered. So we backlogged key projects like optimizing our image analysis pipeline until we were satisfied with the hive strength model.
After we achieved model accuracy around this time last year, we pivoted to refining the model to maintain accuracy in warm weather and beginning to tackle the backlog. As a result, we solved several obstacles that limited our capacity and inhibited efficiency in past pollination seasons.
TBC delivers speedy service & report turnaround
The optimizations we added to the image analysis pipeline led to a huge jump in report turnaround time. Our report generation team worked FAR shorter days last season, delivering all reports well within the 48-hour window we guarantee.
We also impressed customers with our agility this season. Not one customer had to wait to get their hives graded. For almost every customer, as soon as their hives arrived, we’d have a grading team on site the next day (sometimes sooner). This was a result of deploying more imaging teams on the ground and refining our distribution plan over the past 3 seasons.
Verifli model accuracy continues to impress
We went into this pollination season with more confidence in our hive strength model than ever before. Because we’re proud of our work and eager to show off our progress, we set aside time during bloom to conduct validation tests to confirm our accuracy for anybody who asked, including a county hive inspector and a handful of growers.
This was a stark contrast to previous seasons, when we used to manually inspect the hives in addition to grading with Verifli, just to be sure that our growers were getting accurate results. Last year, we probably could’ve gotten away without doing manual inspections—all our manual grades matched up with Verifli results—but we played it safe and did it anyway. This was the first season in which we didn’t offer manual inspections because model performance has exceeded our stringent accuracy target.
Stats from the season
Last season (2021)
This season (2022)
Rental truck breakdowns
I think it’s pretty cool to see these stats side-by-side. This illustrates the extent of the efficiency gains we achieved from optimizing our distribution plan this season.
Scaling Verifli to more crops and new countries
Following several successful pilot tests with a diverse group of users located all over the world, we’re ready to introduce Verifli to new markets. Access to third-party hive grading is a benefit uniquely afforded to California almond growers. Growers whose crops rely on bees for pollination deserve to a way to measure the value of their bees no matter the crops they grow or the country where they reside.
Shifting to year-round grading
As we push Verifli into new markets, we must adapt to the needs of our new users. Most importantly, we need to make sure Verifli is always up and running. Though it probably sounds obvious, this is a big change for us. Before last year, nobody outside the company had ever used Verifli, so it didn’t matter if the app was down for a few weeks. This year, Verifli must be ready to grade hives whenever our users need it.
How will this affect almond pollination? Shifting to year-round grading is good news for almond growers because we’ll be able to innovate faster and more frequently. As more users adopt Verifli, we’ll have more eyes on our software to help uncover bugs and brainstorm new features.
This almond pollination season is one we’ll look back fondly upon years down the line, as it marks the beginning of a new era for The Bee Corp. The demand for an efficient, accurate tool for measuring hive strength exists beyond the almond orchards of California during the month of February. From now on, we’ll be putting Verifli to work year-round—not just during the US almond pollination season.
Here's the bottom line: we’ve got another big year ahead of us. We hope you share our excitement and continue to follow our progress towards some major milestones in 2022. Thanks to all who have supported us along the way!