3D printing used to save bee populations

Australian artist, Michael Candy, has developed a way of saving declining bee populations that are facing man-made challenges such as climate change and pesticides.

Candy’s conceptual project, “Synthetic Polleniser,” has been developed to encourage bees (which play a crucial role in pollination) to breed. It relies on 3D printed robotic flowers and artificial pollination.

bee populations saved by 3D printing

Image credit: Dezeen

Candy told Dezeen: “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”.

3D printed robotic flowers

Image credit: 3Ders.org

The robotic flowers are designed to be installed alongside real plants and are equipped with pollen and nectar. This is to encourage the bees to pollinate.

3D printed robotic flowers

Image credit: 3Ders.org

It has been a challenging project and “it has taken several years to successfully coax bees into landing on the synthetic pollenisers,” said Candy. As bees have a number of ways to identify flowers, the form and colour of the polleniser is important.

The mechanics behind the polleniser attract bees by pushing a man-made nectar solution to the surface of the flower. Tests have shown the bees have been attracted to the small, yellow 3D printed flowers and have collected pollen from them.

Candy is hopeful that his artificial pollination system could 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 Polleniser could rehabilitate the reproductive cycle of these genetically modified crops.”

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