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US startup pollinating plants when bees can’t

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You may have heard that our good friends the humble honey bees are in trouble.

Bee populations are in decline across the globe due to pressures on their habitats and the increasing use of toxic fertilisers such as Roundup. At the end of last year for example, the bumblebee was put on the US endangered species list.

Why is this such a problem?

A staggering number of crops (and ultimately foods) are pollinated by bees. As much as 90 percent of flowering plant species rely on these buzzy creatures to reproduce. Without bees, food supplies to many people could be disrupted.

So when bees aren’t around to do their thing either because of population decline or adverse weather conditions, how do we keep our crops going? Farmers can pay to import bees from other parts of the nation but this can be a very expensive solution.

How do we fix it?

Obviously, in the first instance we should first try to solve the issues that are causing bees to go extinct. In the meantime though, enter the drones.

New Atlas reports that US startup Dropcopter is proving worthy in its ability to pollinate crops. Dropcopter uses pollen bombs which have been shown to increase pollination rates between 25-60 percent. They have recently been undertaking testing on almond, cherry and apple crops in the United States.

How do they work?

You can check out the Dropcopter at work at this apple orchard in LaFayette, New York.

The drones fly back and forth over crops and can cover 40 acres per hour as well as fly at night (when bees are asleep).

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