The world’s bees are dying at an alarming rate, and with them, our hopes of maintaining any kind of crop diversity in our fruits and vegetables. Seeing as how we’re not due for a change in the way we use pesticides (thought to be the primary cause for the bees’ declining population) or deal with climate change (*heavy sigh*), scientists in Japan have engineered tiny “bee drones” to help alleviate the problem.
Yeah, I know, I wonder if they’ve seen that one episode of Black Mirror that literally uses the same idea, too.
I mean, on the surface, it makes sense: build tiny little robots who can help take pressure off the declining bee population, thus protecting crop diversity through drone pollination. We do, after all, depend on bees to help the growth process through their pollinating, and if we were to one day lose their contributions, your fruit and vegetable options would grow remarkably thin.
The team at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan have taken it on themselves to devise an appropriate solution. The development process, according to Gizmodo, went a little something like this: they took a small “G-Force PXY CAM” RC drone and glued animal hair to its underside. The animal hair would effectively replicate a bee’s fuzzy butt, which, in simplified terms, is responsible for the gathering and movement of pollen (thus, pollination). The more scientifically-minded among us can review the team’s results, which were published in the Chem scientific journal, over on Science Direct.
At the risk of beleaguering the point literally every other blog has made about these drones, I just wanted to say that putting a massive amount of tiny drones on a network carries with it some interesting implications. It’s true, Black Mirror‘s use of the bee drones was more of an allegory for the dogpiling that occurs when Twitter users descend on any given target (innocent or not), and really, the message of “all it takes is one bee (or tweet) to kill” is truly quite poignant. But I’d much rather not have someone take that episode as a material lesson on what to do when millions of drones are released out into the public by a company (government, private, or otherwise). It’s going to attract hackers like (you guessed it) bees to honey.
Of course, I’m not saying that’s what’s going to happen, and we really do need to figure out a Plan B for what to do if bees really end up becoming extinct because our shit-gibbon of a President and his administration are in absolute, utter denial over scientific fact. Again, our Plan A would be to have the world take climate change a lot more seriously (and wow, so many more things would get better besides bee population numbers), but barring that, we need… well, anything.
Really, though, and this’ll be the third time I’ve said essentially this (and the umpteenth time I’ve said it in general): protect the hecking bees.
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