All around the world, honeybee populations are declining. This is bad news for all species, as the bumbling insect’s work is vital to the ecosystem. Fortunately, Michael Candy of Brisbane, Australia, has developed a potential solution.
To help increase the dwindling bee population, Candy developed the Synthetic Pollenizer. As DeZeen reports, the conceptual project is a system of robotic flowers that are designed to be safer for bees to pollinate than real flowers.
“Bees are a vital part of our ecosystem, I feel that everyone needs to take the time and get to know these hard workers that keep our plants and crops pollinated,” said Candy. “It is common knowledge that bee population is suffering worldwide due to pesticides, climate change and Varroa mites – for these problems we can find solutions.”
The synthetic flowers are designed to be installed alongside real plants. Each is equipped with pollen, nectar, a synthetic stamen, and 3D-printed petals based on the rapeseed species. The idea is to trick bees into thinking they’re pollinating real plants.
“It has taken several years to successfully coax bees into landing on the synthetic pollenisers. The colour and form of the unit are important for attraction as bees have a variety of ways to identify flowers.”
How it Works
The man-made flowers are connected to a complex network of motors and tubes. These push a synthetic nectar solution to the surface of the flowers which attract honey bees.
A pollen trap (a device that fits over the hive entrance and collects leftover pollen pellets from the hind legs of bees) is used to collect the pollen. The pollen is then fed into a synthetic stamen before being transported through the motors which regulate the amount released from the flower. As the pollen is released, bees pick it up as they normally would.
“Bees are easily the most utilitarian pollinators used in industrial agriculture and they are suffering from a variety of environmental problems,” said Candy. “Perhaps in a future where designer crops are no longer able to produce pollen yet still receive it – then the Synthetic Pollenizer could rehabilitate the reproductive cycle of these genetically modified crops.”
How to Help the Honeybees
The honey bee is under threat due to virulent viruses and toxic insecticides. Nearly all colonies in the world have died out. Without beekeepers to care for them, honeybees could go extinct in the next few years. If this occurs, the produce section in supermarkets will look bleak. This is why each of us, as consumers, must do our part to protect the insects.
4 Ways to Help Honeybees:
- Become a beekeeper
Beekeeping is a fun, rewarding hobby that helps bees and the environment. Learn more here.
- Protect swarms
Swarming is a natural process for honeybees; it helps increase their numbers. If you see a swarm, contact a local authority or the police, who will contact a beekeeper and remedy the situation.
- Buy local honey
Support local beekeepers and benefit from local, raw honey.
- Encourage your city to use bee-friendly plants in public spaces
Local authorities manage many public gardens. Encourage them to plant flowers that attract bees and to use organic fertilizers and natural herbicides.