Research team granted $840,000 to replicate ‘buzz pollination’

buzz pollination, bumble bees
Mario Vallejo-Marin © This photo shows a prototype of a robo-buzzer capable of shaking the stamens of a buzz-pollinated plant and inducing pollen release. The prototype is attached to a toothpick (2mm diameter) using copper wire "legs" for illustration.

With farmers using electric toothbrushes to pollinate tomatoes, scientists are using micro-robotic tech to figure out how ‘buzz pollination’ can be replicated

What is ‘buzz pollination’ and why does it matter?

According to scientists, twenty-thousand varieties of plants, including tomatoes, potatoes, and blueberries, really depend on buzz pollination to produce their crops.
If humans can understand how bees create buzz pollination, then they can improve how  agriculture works. Since bee populations are dwindling, despite the best efforts of activists and scientists, this means that food security could be at risk if no alternative method is found.

A separate study found that both electric toothbrushes and tuning forks were equally good at releasing pollen from the plants involved. Crucially, toothbrushes are notoriously less expensive.

Scientists working with the new grant emphasise that they do not want to replace bees with robotic alternatives.

Vallejo-Marin further said: “Understanding buzz pollination better could lead to stronger motivation for conserving the diversity of bees, beyond honeybees and bumblebees, as well as potentially optimizing fruit and vegetable yields in agriculture.”


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