Over the past few years, there has been a massive decline in the bee population all over the world. While this may not seem as significant as endangered animals declining in population, the effect will be staggering. Without bees pollinating every year, a majority of crops will decline in number as well. The absence of pollination can decimate crops, and can wreak havoc on the world’s food supply. Suffice to say, without bees, the entire ecosystem can collapse.
Several attempts have been made in the past in order to save the bees. A drone created in Auckland, New Zealand however tries to tackle this problem from a different vantage point.
Instead of focusing on bee conservation, researchers in Auckland are trying to find a way to keep pollination in check – without the bees. If worse comes to worst, having an alternative way to pollinate flowers can save the ecosystem balance.
How can a drone do the job of a tiny insect you ask? A battery-powered drone cannot realistically fly around every flower all year long. It can help pollination through soap bubbles. Yes, you read that correctly – soap bubbles may just be the future of pollination.
In their studies at Auckland, they have devised a way for drones to blow soap bubbles filled with pollen into flowers below the drone. Think of it as a cropduster plane delivering pesticide to fields. The drone flies over its intended targets; releases pollen bubbles, and goes on its way.
Bee versus Drone
The effects of the initial study showed absolutely no difference. Results were identical to that of pollination by bee, or manual pollination via drones with brushes. The bubble method however requires less pollen, and is a lot faster to do than manual pollen transfer. This means that the drone can cover more ground with the fraction of the time.
While a world pollinated by drones may seem like fiction, it is more real than you may realize.