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Radar and robots: Can technology turn honeybees into more efficient pollinators?

| | August 20, 2019

According to the Bee Informed Partnership, 37.7% of managed honey bee colonies were lost during the 2018-19 winter — the highest level since the partnership began surveying winter loss after the winter of 2006-07. While problems with colony collapse disorder — when the majority of worker bees leave a colony — have lessened to an extent in recent years, concerns about overall bee health continue.

Those concerns have led researchers to consider whether technology can play a part in pollination. For some researchers, that means looking into whether technology can replace bees. Harvard researchers have created RoboBees, insect-sized flying robots, and about a year ago, they found ways for the robots to fly untethered from power supplies. Numerous researchers are seeking ways to use tiny drones for means of artificial pollination. Walmart filed a patent for a system for “pollinating crops by unmanned vehicles.”

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But in North Dakota — annually the No. 1 or No. 2 honey producing state in the country — researchers aren’t trying to use technology to replace pollinators. They’re trying to use technology to make honey bees more efficient.

“I think this is a better option because it’s using what’s already in the natural landscape,” Lyall says. “We’re just making better use of that commodity.”

Read full, original article: High-tech pollination program begins work in ND sunflower fields

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Click the link above to read the full, original article.
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