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Fly for bee swap
  [vote for,

This idea should be in a category for agriculture or farming - but I could find none!

Many crops require pollination. Beekeepers truck beehives around and install them in fields when the crops flower, and the bees do the job. But bees have been hit by diseases lately, making them expensive for the farmers to hire (link).

Flies are ubiquitous, and easy to grow in a heap of manure or dead fish. It may be possible to substitute flies for bees as pollinators. I propose that when crops flower, the flowers be sprayed with a mix of chemicals designed to simulate rotting flesh / dung. Or you could use an extract of this stuff. The farmer has planned ahead, and about two weeks before the almond trees or other crop flowers, he has installed a bin full of sewage. The result: his fields are infested with flies. The sewage bin is removed when the plants flower, and the desperate flies now visit flower after flower, hoping that the stink they smell might actually be something to eat or lay eggs in. They pollinate the crop, then die off - returning their nitrogen to the field.

Less elegant than bees - but noone gets stung, no-one cares when all the flies die, and the farmer can grow as many or as few flies as he requires for the job.

bungston, Mar 21 2004

Almond pollination http://www.mercuryn..._county/8031069.htm
[bungston, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 06 2004]

Bee mites http://www.napa.ufl.edu/98news/bees1.htm
Domestic bees are hurt by these. On the plus side, so are the killer bees. [bungston, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 06 2004]

one of the carrion plants that attract flies with the smell of rotting flesh http://news.bbc.co....sci/tech/401124.stm
I figured evolution had also plugged this loophole [FarmerJohn, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 06 2004]


       How would the flies be able to tell the flowers from the manure? Pointless.
DrCurry, Mar 21 2004

       some flies do pollinate.
po, Mar 21 2004

       How will you be able to apply the smell to the blossom and not the rest of the plant? Otherwise your flies would be lost when the reach a treated plant.
nietsch, Mar 21 2004

       The answer to these objections is very high fly density. Locating feedlots near almond groves could help with this.
bungston, Mar 21 2004

       The manure thing will face some opposition, but perhaps its possible to breed the flies to go after flowers. Keep a few generations in cages and offer them a suitable substrate to lay their eggs but impregnated with a flower scent. Only flies that are willing to lay their eggs on the flower scented material will breed.   

       Added benefit: These flies won’t be able to breed in the wild because the maggots will starve to death on real flowers. This will prevent uncontrolled spread and guarantee continuous demand from the breeders.   

       Alternative solution: Put big screens and speakers all over the field. Run a continuous video that hypnotizes all flies in the vicinity and makes them think they are bees, or love flowers, or that maggots are vegetarians, or ...
kbecker, Mar 22 2004

       This would make a great science museum exhibit until someone offered the new fly honey. Good point Scout. +
sartep, Mar 22 2004

       I prefer the term stenchblossom
MikeOxbig, Nov 24 2005

       Ah yes, the giant orangy-red-yellow flower that smells of rotting flesh. Goodie goodie!
DesertFox, Nov 24 2005


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