While Brooklyn’s bees are getting into maraschino cherry juice and producing inedible, sickly-red honey, bees in New England may be showing the way to a less petroleum-dependent future. Colletes inaequalis, a solitary ground-dwelling bee, lines its nest with a cellophane-like substance it makes from pollen. Materials scientist Debbie Chachra of the Franklin M. Olin College of Engineering in Needham, Massachusetts, is studying the insect’s ability to produce this durable polymer. As Geoff Manaugh speculates in his piece on Chachra’s research for the end-of-year edition of Wired UK, perhaps one day we’ll use bees as living 3-D printers to produce long-lasting, oil-free materials. Just keep them away from those nasty green cherries, please.
13 days ago
September 16, 2023