Artificial pollinator aims to take sting out of bee colony loss
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Artificial pollinator aims to take sting out of bee colony loss

Israeli entrepreneur Eylam Ran says shortage of honeybees could plunge agriculture into major crisis, aims to market invention by 2023

A honeybee pollinating a flower. (Dana Wachter/Times of Israel)
A honeybee pollinating a flower. (Dana Wachter/Times of Israel)

An Israeli tech company says it has developed a machine that can replicate the crop pollination process normally performed by bees, seeking to address concerns over the insect’s dwindling numbers.

Edete Precision Technologies says it is already operating its invention at an almond orchard in Tel Arad in the southern Negev desert region.

Researchers believe the collapse of bee colonies, thought to be caused by pesticides or climate change, among other factors, could threaten food production, with not enough bees available to pollinate plants.

“We see a crisis in 15 years where we don’t have enough insects in the world to actually do pollination and most of our vitamins and fruits are gone,” Eylam Ran, CEO of Edete Precision Technologies for Agriculture, told the Reuters news agency in a report published Monday.

The machine first mechanically harvests pollen from flowers. A tractor then pulls a mast with about a dozen small cannons that fire precise doses of pollen at trees, fertilizing them. The distribution process is done using LIDAR sensors, a technology also used sometimes in self-driving cars.

However, the artificial pollinator is still in the small-scale trial run phase. They are being carried out in Israel, Australia and will soon be introduced in the United States, according to the report.

Ran contends that the machine will eventually be able to replace bees completely. The company is aiming to complete and start marketing its product by 2023.

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