Bee Drones: Researchers Create Insect Drones for Plant Pollination

What is a drone bee?

Bee Drones Pollinate Flowers

Japanese researchers have created a tiny, insect-sized drone bee that is able to pollinate plants like bees do.

The mini bee drones are remote-controlled quadcopters capable of flying up to flowers, and quickly collecting and distributing pollen in a fashion very similar bees. They’re about one-and-a-half inches long, and coated in a special gel, allowing the pollen to stick. Interestingly enough, the gel was accidentally discovered in 2007 by chemist Eijiro Miyako, as he was attempting to create liquid electrical conductors.

Beneath the gel, the bee drone is covered in horse hairs simulating a bee’s body hair. The combination of the horse hair and gel seems to realistically simulate real bees, as the drone has successfully pollinated plants during tests in the lab.

As the bee species continues to decline, the researchers are hopeful that these artificial pollinators can lend a helping hand — or propeller.

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