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Will Robot Bees Soon Arrive in your Community?


By Robert Gordon
Program Director, Reverse Logistics Management at American Public University

Bees are a scarce but renewable resource and an important part of the ecosystem, pollinating flowers and a great number of agricultural crops. Urbanization threatens their numbers creating an issue we need to face today: Should we find ways to save natural bees or are robot bees the answer?

There is such demand for bees that there are gypsy beekeepers that have been earning a good living moving their bees from place to place and from crop to crop in California. Concurrently, Harvard is working to build bee drones. Although this might be years away still, they are making remarkable progress in a very short time.

Although robot bee drones are still 10-15 years away, the question that we need to ask ourselves is what do we want to have in the future: a bee-friendly urban center or robot bee drones.

Bees are often squeezed out by progress. Urban centers lack the correct resources for them to establish a colony and, even if they did establish one, they would likely be sprayed to protect people in the area. Since I have family members with allergies to bee stings, I know if a bee colony showed up in my backyard, I would likely call to have it removed or have them eliminated like many other pests.

Efforts in Oslo, Norway to combat the ever-shrinking bee population could be an instructive model for the future. To support the local bee population, the city has started an initiative to build rooftop gardens with bee-friendly flowers and plants. The concept is to create an urban honeybee superhighway to help bees thrive.

Making a city bee-friendly not only makes the city beautiful it also helps keep honeybees from dying off. Many international hotels have already been taking real action to support bees.

We need to ask ourselves if we are willing to support these natural efforts to sustain bees or if we want technology to replace them. If we do not make an effort to foster natural populations, robot bees may soon be the only option available.

About the Author: Dr. Robert Lee Gordon is the program director for the Reverse Logistics Management department at American Public University. Dr. Gordon has more than 25 years of professional experience in supply chain management and human resources. Dr. Gordon earned his Doctorate of Management and Organizational Leadership and his Masters of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix as well earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from UCLA.