Robot bees swooping in and saving the day sounds like something straight out of a science fiction novel, but it may actually be closer to a reality than you think.
The artificial bees of the future could come in the form of drones, complete with an innovative sticky gel and horsehair. The features of these tech hybrids would enable them to help pollinate flowers, aiding the important job of dwindling bee populations and other pollinators are tasked with.
Bees are critical to pollinating and ensuring increasing crop yields.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, “three-fourths of the world’s flowering plants and about 35 percent of the world’s food crops depend on animal pollinators to reproduce.”
“Pollinators are essential to the production of food, and in the United States, honey bees pollinate an estimated $15 billion of crops each year, ranging from almonds to zucchinis,” said Dr. Ann Bartuska, deputy undersecretary for research of Education and Economics at the USDA in a May 2016 statement.
A May 2016 USDA survey saw an 8 percent decrease in honey bee colonies from January 1, 2016 compared to the year prior for operations with five or more colonies.
Researchers from Japan are behind this proof of concept innovative design, which comes down to the iconic liquid gel. The discovery was actually a byproduct of another failed experiment.
However, there’s a long way to go before this innovation becomes a reality. The project is still in its early stages and faces challenges like high production costs and a short battery life. Only time will tell if this innovation will become a viable solution to the pollinator decline.