Feb 25, 2018 | By Tess

An Australian artist has come up with a novel idea for saving declining bee populations. The conceptual project, called “Synthetic Polleniser,” relies on 3D printed robotic flowers and artificial pollination to encourage bees to breed.

All around the globe, bee species are facing man-made challenges such as climate change, pesticides, and the introduction of invasive species. Fortunately, many people and organizations are coming up with ideas to help protect the flying insects, which play a crucial role in pollination all over the world.

Brisbane artist Michael Candy is one of these people, and has come up with a way to help bees pollinate (and consequently breed) that involves additive manufacturing.

“Bees are a vital part of our ecosystem; I feel that everyone needs to take the time and get to know these hard workers that keep our plants and crops pollinated,” the artist explained to Dezeen.

The project, in short, uses robotic 3D printed flowers that are equipped with both pollen and nectar. These artificial flowers are meant to be placed among real plants in order to attract bees and get them to pollinate.

The 3D printed flowers even integrate an artificial stamen (the reproductive organ of a flower) and rapeseed-inspired petals that are designed to draw the bees in. A nectar solution is carried to the surface of the 3D printed flower through a series of motors and tubes. You know, like a real flower.

Getting the bees to pollinate the artificial flowers wasn’t quite that simple though. According to Candy, it required lots of trial and error: “It has taken several years to successfully coax bees into landing on the synthetic pollenisers," he said. “The colour and form of the unit are important for attraction as bees have a variety of ways to identify flowers.”

As tests and experiments have shown, bees have actually been attracted to the small, yellow 3D printed flowers and have collected pollen from them.

Candy believes his artificial pollination system could one day be implemented on a wider scale to encourage bees to pollinate: “Perhaps in a future where designer crops are no longer able to produce pollen yet still receive it, then the Synthetic Pollenizer could rehabilitate the reproductive cycle of these genetically modified crops.”



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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