The almost unhindered march to amazing new inventions and never before seen technological advancements can often affect other things or beings, which may be considered as insignificant at first glance. Usually, as civilization and technology hurriedly advance, it is nature that is always left on the sidelines. Anyone can find hundreds of examples of nature being given nothing more than a mere thought as the quest for convenience, scientific knowledge, and world-changing technologies dominate the daily lives of scientists and researchers.
The few instances where the latest technology is applied to help nature can be literally counted by several body extremities. One such example of using the latest in technology for nature’s benefit is the utilization of very sophisticated 3D printing technology to help bees build their honeycombs. While bees may not be the best pets for a majority of the population, especially those with allergies, they are simply indispensable in one of nature’s most important processes — pollination.
The severe degradation of the environment coupled with climate change has made pollination even more important. Without pollination, one can easily guarantee that food production is bound to suffer, if it has not already. Experts point out that under normal situations; it takes about 7 full days and practically all of the bees in a colony to produce their most important possession, which is their honeycomb. It means that without the added stress and difficulties of human development, bees have to work endlessly for a good week to get the job done. It also means that pollination suffers in the process.
A team of professors and researchers from the Auckland University of Technology has come up with a solution to help ease the burden of bees in building their honeycombs. Quite surprisingly, and impressively, 3D printing seems to be the answer to their needs. They have come up with an extremely sophisticated software that can analyze the core of beehives and then produce a honeycomb based on that examination.
What is even more impressive is the fact that bees are actually very discerning in the kind of beehives they want. One can’t simply produce a rudimentary version as they have very specific requirements about the spacing in their honey storage environment. A less than desired structure will stop bees from behaving the way nature designed them to and that creates more stress and effort on their part.
Initial models have shown very positive results as the bees are acting normally, which means that they feel at home in their man-made honeycomb. The scientists are not just contented with this though, as they are aiming to use beeswax in the production of the honeycomb. If they are already at home with this current version, the beeswax as future material should be the icing on the cake.
The significance lies in the point that the normal routine and effort it takes bees to produce a honeycomb can be done in as little as a single day. This achievement is seen as a starting point in turning the critical status of pollination as achieved in nature through the use of 3D printing technology.
Article Source – 3 News