Friday, March 03, 2017
Bee deaths have been on the rise, with losses outpacing colonies' ability to regenerate. Last year, the U.S. lost 44 percent of all honeybee colonies — a species essential to commercial pollination in this country. Other species of bees have neared mass extinction, including the rusty patch bumble bee and seven species of Hawaiian yellow-faced bees.
A world without bees may seem far-fetched, but experts are looking for ways to help plants survive without them. Eijiro Miyako, a researcher at Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, has designed what he believes could one day be a partial solution: an insect-sized drone capable of artificial pollination. Coated with a patch of horse hair bristles and an ionic liquid gel, these pint-sized robots can collect and transfer pollen from one plant to another.