Honeybees and other pollinators are very important to agricultural crops and without bees our lives would be very different. One article illustrated their importance saying bees, “…produce approximately $19 billion worth of agricultural crops in the U.S. alone in 2010; that’s estimated to be one-third of everything we eat!” Without the help of these bees we would be without a lot of the foods we have today. Some of the foods that bees have the largest impact on are: broccoli, asparagus, pumpkins, blueberries, watermelons, and apples, just to name a few.
Along with sustaining our crops, bees contribute to helping other insects and birds by maintaining their ecosystems. Another, perhaps not as crucial benefit of bees, is that they keep our world beautiful with the abundance of flowers.
Understanding the bee’s importance is key when analyzing the effect of their possible extinction from CCD-colony collapse disorder. With the use of pesticides and fertilizers this possibility could soon become a reality.
Anna Haldewang, a student at Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, has come up with a solution: Plan Bee a drone that will provide pollination. Plan Bee is still being filed for a patent but has hopes of a two-year date to make it complete.
Haldewang is not the first to see the need for a new way to pollinize. Another design, RoboBee, the size of a quarter, was created by Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences department. The article went on to explain that while the main reason for its creation was because of the dwindling bee supply, another use was realized: helping with disaster relief.
The RoboBee sets itself apart from not only other robotic bees but robotics in general because of its small size. The article mentioned that, “when Wood and his colleagues first set out to create a robotic fly, there were no off the shelf parts for them to use.” This meant that the Harvard team had to start from scratch and completely innovate the invention. Now the pollinizing machine, as mentioned above, is also being marketed towards disaster relief. The small design makes it more successful during search and rescue where other robotic tools might not be able to navigate through the debris and other materials.
I think the new bee inventions are fascinating; taking a natural event like pollination and turning to technology to replicate could be the answer to the declining bee populations. Although, some argue that bee robotics should just be a temporary fix until scientists can find a way to cure the CCD. Through continued government funding, the future could possibly mean artificially pollinating a field of crops through the use of robotics and drones.