Though scientists have known about Colony-Collapse Disorder, the phrase used to describe the untimely deaths of millions of honey bees across the globe for many years, nobody has yet been able to ascertain why. With bees responsible for pollinating crops worth in excess of $200 billion USD a year, something has to be done to avert what could soon become a global food crisis.
While scientists are still trying to solve that mystery, researchers at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have been working on analternative - A robotic bee! Unveiled earlier this month, the Robo Bee is about half the size of a paperclip and weighs less than a tenth of a gram (.003 oz). And though named 'bee', it is actually modeled after a fly, complete with two extremely thin wings that are capable of flapping at a rate of 120 times per second.
As you can imagine, building a robot the size of a honey bee has been no easy task. Robert J. Wood, the principal investigator of the Robo Bee project and his team, have been working on it for the last 12 years and while they finally have a working prototype, there are still some challenges to surmount before the bees can be deployed.
[Perhaps we and the bees might better be served if this funding were applied to honey bee research.]