Weird Stories: Robo-bees — an un-bee-lievable solution

If you are someone who lives in constant fear of the impending robot uprising then this edition of Weird Stories might make you uneasy. If you fit the above description and you also hate bees, you should be twice as concerned (or maybe happy if you really hate bees).

In recent years, the bee population has taken a massive hit, with the U.S. losing 44 percent of its honey bee colonies between April 2015 and April 2016 according to BeeInformed.org. This, coupled with that fact that many other species of bees are already nearing extinction, means the future isn’t looking bright for bees.

Now, this might not be something that you are losing sleep over, seeing as it’s likely that the most experience you have with bees is getting stung on the playground as a kid or frantically running from room to room of your house when you accidentally let one in. However, bees are actually extremely important to our ability to survive, as they are one of the leaders in pollinating crops, and without them researchers say we could lose a large portion of our food supply and in turn also take massive financial damages.

So it seems that the natural solution would be to get over our hatred of/indifference toward bees and try to save them, if for nothing else than our selfish desire to ensure our own well-being. Well, scientists in Japan have found an even more selfish (and ridiculous) solution: replace bees with robots.

These robo bees — designed by Eijiro Miyako, who does research at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan — fly around and use horse hair coated with a special gel that allows them to pick up and carry pollen from plant to plant. Also, in order to test the gel, Miyako’s team coated insects with it and studied whether or not insects with the gel could pick up pollen from flowers.

So, let’s recap. Bee populations are dying and these scientists plan to create robots to replace them, and to test their plan they took sticky gel and coated other animals with it to see if it was right for the robot replacement. This would be like if your boss fired you, then forced you to get your replacement his coffee and help him set up his workspace.

Those who are worried about living a real-life Black Mirror episode can rest easy for the moment because Miyako’s current robot bees are not ready for the market and aren’t even autonomous yet. If we wanted to use them as pollinators right now, some poor intern would have to walk around and manually steer the drone from plant to plant. Though maybe avoid the hashtag #DeathTo just to be safe.

So, do you think this is absurd and that we should focus on saving the real bees instead of making robot bee drones, or are you all on board for the robo bee apocalypse? Let us know in the comments online or tweet at us at @tdg_arts. For me personally, I just hope that if the robot bees do decide to take over they will view the "Bee Movie" meme as a compliment and not an insult. And hopefully they don’t watch “The Wicker Man” or Nicolas Cage might be in trouble.



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