(Washington State University) Developing robotic technology for crop pollination is the goal of a new project for Washington State University and Penn State University scientists. Funded by a nearly $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Washington State Department of Agriculture the project will involve looking at models for blossom development, working with camera and machine learning systems, and developing a robotic hand and arm to spread pollen.
(CNN) Researchers found that a soap bubble solution made with the right surfactant, an optimized pH, calcium, other minerals and chemicals was effective at retaining pollen grains on the thin film of the bubbles, transporting them to the targeted flowers, and facilitating germination. While the fruit-bearing rate of the control group was about 58%, bubble and hand pollination both achieved a rate of around 95%. Soap pollination also called for much fewer pollen grains than other methods did.
(Modern Farmer) Bioni Samp’s music blends recordings of honey bees buzzing and humming with electronic music. Samp records bees using a digital recorder attached to a special frame he made with microphones. He has managed to isolate the sounds of different bees – queens, drones and workers. The result is a wall of sound, which Samp hopes will make people think about their relationship with nature.
(Orlando Sentinel) A new app called Lawn to Wildflowers from the University of Central Florida’s College of Sciences offers a guide on how to transform a yard into a home for bees, butterflies and other pollinators.
(University of Missouri) Researchers at the University of Missouri discovered that the spiny pollen from a native wild dandelion species in the southern Rocky Mountains has evolved to attach to traveling bumblebees. When compared with the average lawn dandelion, which does not need pollen to reproduce, the researchers saw that the pollen on the lawn dandelion has a shorter distance between these spines, making it harder to attach to traveling pollinators.
(The Jerusalem Post) Date farmers located in the Jordan Valley and Arava have deployed an innovative solution to overcome labor shortages caused by the coronavirus outbreak: aerial pollination using drones. The drone operators are Israeli Blue White Robotics and New York-based Dropcopter, who have successfully tested drone-based palm pollination in recent months at the Arava Institute. The experiment at the desert research facility was carried out in response to declining bee populations. Aerial pollination has become increasingly important due to recent flooding in the Jordan Valley, which has prevented ground pollination in many areas.
(Twitter, Dr. Manu Saunders @ManuSaunders) “This year’s #EarthDay theme is climate action, but the Google doodle is promoting misinformation about #pollinators! I sat through 22 ‘facts’ & 50% of them were specific to honey bees…just 1 species out of literally 1000s of pollinating animals on Earth”
(CNET) To mark this year’s Earth Day, Google partnered with The Honeybee Conservancy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting bees, to construct an interactive Doodle that features a bee going about its important business of pollinating flowers. You can use your mouse to guide the bee from flower to flower, getting pollination done and unlocking cool facts about bees and their importance to sustaining life on Earth.