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Wednesday 25 November 2015

With Apilab, the bee becomes an environmental monitoring agent

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by Baptiste Roux Dit Riche | Cleantech Republic | 10.14.11


In the absence of a fairy, it was a good bee who guarded the cradle of Benjamin Poirot at his birth. “I am the son and grand-son of beekeepers, but I did not want to get into production. My goal was to reconcile this personal journey with my scientific studies.” With a doctorate in biochemistry, this “abeillophile” founded in 2007 the Rochelle consulting firm Apinov. Under the brand Apilab, Benjamin Poirot offers customers a method of environmental monitoring by bees. “The bee is an attractive bio-indicator because by taking just a few bees, we can know the quality of air, water and soil within a radius of three kilometers with an integration period of 15 to 30 days (ie: life expectancy of the forager bee). It is a comprehensive analysis.”

Diagnosis and environmental monitoring

For communities, associations and industries, the Apilab method offers two separate benefits. First, an environmental diagnosis (Apidiag) which aims to identify the distribution of a pollutant (heavy metals, dioxins, pesticides …) on a given site. “Generally we place three hives that are picked up between one and three times a year. Samples of bees are then forwarded to an independent laboratory. We thus study the development of a pollutant over time.” Complementary, the Apialerte system provides environmental monitoring of a territory by observing the behavior of bees. “With electronic sensors we monitor the daily mortality of bees in the hive. In the event of a sharp peak in mortality, we send an alert to the customer.” Less insects in the hive? The user automatically receives an alarm Apialerte on his phone. Technology and nature team up.

Apilab - Ville de la Rochelle

Apilab - La Rochelle town (France)

Looking to the community market

While their heavy metal detection method is aimed primarily at manufacturers, Apilab experts are betting right now on the municipality market. Their process has already attracted the elected representatives of the cities of La Rochelle (the study of air quality) and Poitiers (detection of pesticides). “We have many requests from cities and communities. They may already have hives as part of biodiversity initiatives. With our method, they can enhance their efforts in sustainable development.” With successful first runs in France, Benjamin Poirot thinks his method is now exportable. And why not open it up to new problems, such as radioactivity. Sugarcoating might be necessary for those who still think bees scare people. “When we set up a hive, we seek a quiet place, somewhat remote from inhabitants,” Poirot explains. “However, the bee has a more reassuring image.” So says the beekeeper’s grandson.

Apilab in brief

  • Created: March 2007 (Apinov)
  • Headquarters: La Rochelle (France)
  • Employees: 4 employees
  • Turnover: n.c
  • Clients: City of La Rochelle, Poitiers, large French companies (confidential) …
  • Annual cost of an evaluation: between 9000 and 30,000 euros.
  • Partners: INRA, IRSN, University of La Rochelle …

To learn more: Company details (in french) on

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