craftmachineship: robo-bees and machine pollination

With the growing decline in bee populations globally, there is a concern whether the cause will be narrowed down in time to prevent the irreversible impact. Multiple stresses such as the Varroa destructor - a parasitic mite, and investigations into the effects of pesticides on bee health has spurred debate around the unexplained decline of bees over the past few years. 

Most recently, investigators in Japan have begun experimenting with the possibility of having drone bees which are capable of pollination. While automation and awareness is lacking in the pollination process, the key action of gathering and dispersing pollen between flowering plants has been successfully presented. Prior to drone bees, Intellectual Ventures patented flying pollinators guided across a farm using a computerised flight plan. 

It is not a response to the bee decline, but it in some ways illustrates our capability in utilising technology to bridge a gap or fill a void, where humanity has caused irreversible damage. With fields such as biomimicry, it wouldn't be too farfetched for engineers to look towards a future where biology can be not only mimicked but also replaced. 



Source - New Scientist, Robotic Bee Pollinates Flowers