Drones May Help Bees Pollinate Crops
” The bees are dying globally at an alarming rate. As we continue to come to grips with the problems of our dystopian future, it’s probably as good a time as ever to dream up some solutions with an idea straight out of the dystopian show Black Mirror: pollinating drones.
We rely heavily on bees and other species to pollinate our plants, and though there isn’t global data, there have been enough local die-offs to spark widespread concern, according to a report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Now, a team of scientists from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Japan have engineered drones featuring a specially-engineered adhesive that can pick up and deposit pollen.”
” The team is not looking to replace natural pollinators, but to assist them in their pollination efforts. They think that in a future, when bee populations are lower, drones like these might be able to relieve the stress of having to do all of the pollination.
Miyako’s drone started with a decade-old bottle of sticky gel from a past experiment he found while cleaning his lab. The so-called ionic liquid gel is composed of a collection of complex molecules joined together in long chains, and has the optimal stickiness to pick up pollen grains. The group performed a number of tests with their gel, like rubbing it on ants and flies and having the bugs hang out around flowers. Each bug ended up covered in pollen grains.”