IT IS, in one way, the ultimate drone. In another, though, it is the antithesis of what a drone should be. Drones are supposed to laze around in the hive while their sisters collect nectar and pollinate flowers. But pollination is this drone’s very reason for existing.
The drone in question is the brainchild of Eijiro Miyako, of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, in Tsukuba, Japan. It is the first attempt by an engineer to deal with what many perceive as an impending agricultural crisis.
Pollinating insects in general, and bees in particular, are falling in numbers. The reasons why are obscure. But some fear certain crops will become scarcer and more expensive as a result. Attempts to boost the number of natural pollinators have so far failed.