In an exciting new development, a team of researchers from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland and the University of Graz in Austria have created a robotic honeycomb that could save honeybees from dying due to “chill coma.”
As described in their recent publication in the journal Science Robotics, the team built a robot into a hive box that delivers heat directly to the honeycomb, which the bees use to generate heat and stay warm during the winter. The robot closely monitors conditions in the hive and adjusts the amount of heat delivered accordingly, ensuring that the bees are kept at a consistent and safe temperature.
The researchers tested their new system by inviting 4,000 bees to make the hive their home over the winter of 2020-2021, and were thrilled to find that the bees survived a cold snap when other nearby hives experienced significant losses.
This breakthrough offers hope for the survival of honeybees, whose populations have been in decline due to a variety of factors, including environmental toxins and natural pathogens. By working to develop innovative solutions to protect these vital pollinators, the team is paving the way for a more sustainable future.