Created by Michael Candy, Synthetic Pollenizer is a conceptual intervention in real-world ecological systems using artificial flowers. Inspired by natural pollenizers, these robotic replicas artificially pollinate bees, integrating into the reproductive cycle of local flora; an initiative into a cybernetic ecology.
Over the years the project has gone through many iterations, from orchids to daisies. The latest unit (in the video below) is a synthetic canola flower or rapeseed, field testing took place in Dookie (Victoria, Aus) in late 2017. Some of the early editions of the pollenizer project were developed under advisement of the Resource Ecology Group at Wageningen University in the Netherlands during a mentorship. This collaboration lent access to many scientific papers about experiments with bees and fake flowers providing integral information needed to execute this project.
↑ Early prototypes of the Synthetic Pollenizer.
The pollenizers are made from many different materials and processes, from 3d printed parts and glass to hand machined aluminium and brass. The initial prototypes were made from paper to speed up fabrication and get them in the field quicker. Pollen is collected from hives using pollen traps, a routine process as pollen can be used for medicinal purposes and the Nectar synthesized as a simple concoction of sugar and water. The prototype uses an array of servos and actuators to distribute pollen and nectar to the flower buds. The colour and shapes are designed to visually attract visitors. The live stream unit sports a Raspberry Pi to broadcast live footage of visiting bees to youtube.