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Bee Brokers Bring High Tech To Buzzing Business

YOLO COUNTY (CBS13) — A pair of college buddies made a beeline to build a better beehive.

"I met Will when we both went to University of Hawaii for college. We were both recruited there to swim," said Greg Shved.

Things were going swimmingly for Shved and his teammate Will Mamer until the Shved family business went bust.

"My grandfather got scammed back in 2014 by contractors just like ourselves and put my family into debt," said Shved.

He wanted to get out of it, so he looked into the bee business.

"We saw an opportunity and went from there," said Mamer.

Greg and Will teamed up again to form a new business called Exchange Bees. They are a bee broker.

"For this whole thing, pollination, to work, you have the beekeeper, the grower and then you have us, which is in between connecting the two," said Mamer.

They've developed new infrared technology to get a more accurate picture of the beehive. That's important when you consider one colony costs $200 and the almond pollination is the backbone of the beekeeping industry.

"Through a picture, we are able to determine the size of the colony and with that quantity, see how many acres are in the orchard, see how many trees are planted per acre, what year the trees are, what variety the trees are. And then you figure you need x amount of bees for your crop," said Shved.

Beekeeper Paul Perebertan says this data-driven pollination process helps make his job a whole lot easier, especially when he might deliver thousands of hives in one night.

"They do all our maps, locations, contracts. All I have to do is pick up my phone and transmit all the pin drops to my foremen and I don't have to meet up with the grower," said Perebertan.

The almond grower told us, "it just makes the process smoother, [and] everything is spelled out clearly."

These 20-somethings have been busy as bees working to overcome skepticism.

"It's been a lot of handshakes, a lot of bee stings, a lot of orchard visits," said Mamer.

The two are flying high with their newfound success.

"It's about getting out there and seeing what works. Theory is one thing but practicality is another," said Mamer.

They now service 100 different almond growers in the Golden State with several hundred clients altogether.

"Working with friends is definitely hard, but it's definitely worth it when, at the end of the day, you guys are proud of something you did together," said Shved.

They are in the process of collecting their hives now but say honey produced from almond pollination isn't sold to the general public. The bees will move on to other areas to pollinate cherry, apple and citrus crops. The almond pollination is just a stop to strengthen them for the trip.

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