Israeli farmers deploy pollinating drones to fill Covid-19 labor shortage

Image of drone flying over date trees.

(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.

As bee populations decline, can technology help fill the gap?

Image of Dropcopter pollination drone hovering.

(PBS NewsHour) With bees in decline, some see a business opportunity. A company called Dropcopter is trying to create a drone to spread pollen. Harvard University’s Wyss Institute is designing a miniature autonomous flying vehicle they call the Robobee that might be used for pollination. But some bee experts are skeptical of a technological fix and say we need to focus more on protecting the real live bees that are still here.