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Robot scout bee

To boost pollination efficiency of roving honeybee colonies, raise bees alongside remote-controlled robot 'sisters' who can rave about target food sources at a given new site.
  [vote for,

Bees are busy indeed, and have proven great allies as both honeymakers and crop-pollinators. California's yearly almond crop, for example, reportedly needs the buzz-by of hundreds of thousands of human-kept bee colonies, many of whom are brought through the state specifically for the almond pollination season. California is alluring for more than just almonds, tho -- and the pollination business, however big, remains subject to the whim of the workers themselves, who may be enticed by more than just the target crop. Trust me, it can be so tough to reach a stubborn bee with silicon, sand, or celluloid stardom on her mind...

But such bees may be cajoled on their own terms, which, like those of human females, often involve dancefloor spectacle. Yes, enter the robot bee scout -- trusty go-between middle manager whom both bee and keeper can do business with. 'Raised' with liveborn hivemates (to ensure she comes across as a round-the-way bee) as well as a critical sprinkling of fellow robot scouts, she can, by remote-controlled boogy, direct her adoptive sisters to food sources chosen by the keeper. On arrival at a novel site, such robot 'scouting' can greatly shorten colony acclimation and food search times, and keep workers focused on desired tasks-at-foot. Pollination efficiency is boosted, colony size better maintained, and overall costs dropped. Perhaps bees could, by such careful direction, even be enticed to perform other vaguely pollination-like tasks, like painting houses, salting roads, swarming fugitives, or smuggling cocaine. I'm sure Karl von Frisch would exult at the possibilities.

n-pearson, Aug 04 2003

Zoogoer magazine http://nationalzoo....995/6/buzzabout.cfm
"One of the most imaginative efforts was the development of a "mechanical bee," a life-sized, brass robot covered with bee's wax, whose movements and sounds can be controlled remotely." [phoenix, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Creation Moments http://www.creation...t.asp?track_id=1206
"...researchers in Denmark plan to construct a tiny robot dancing bee which can be used to recruit real honeybees to food sources - if they can learn the bees' language." [phoenix]

Honeybee and Robot Navigation http://www.restena....unes/Navigation.htm [phoenix, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Honeybee and Robot Navigation http://www.restena....unes/Navigation.htm
[phoenix, Oct 04 2004]

The Elusive Honey Bee Dance "Language" Hypothesis http://www.beesourc.../wenner/jib2002.htm
Or is it sound? [phoenix, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]


       I'm not sure if you're proposing a miniature flying robot or just a communications device.   

       In the case of a flying robot, well, bees aren't supposed to be able to fly themselves. You think we can do better?   

       The latter case is Baked. (links)
phoenix, Aug 04 2003

       Latter (no actual robot flying needed); next time, I'll make a beeline for google first. The 'Elusive...Hypothesis' link is a real eye-opener, too -- thanks.
n-pearson, Aug 04 2003

       <mildly dull aside>My MSc in Computational Neuroethology many moons ago was trying to create a virtual bee and model landmark navigation</mildly dull aside>
nichpo, Aug 05 2003


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