Bees are running into a lot of challenges lately, and while there are efforts to help the bees get their buzz back, scientists are testing out systems that might give us other ways to pollinate. One, at the Washington State University, involves cameras and robot hands – while another, in Japan, involves soap bubbles.

Robotic crop pollination awarded $1 million grant (Washington State University)

Blowing bubbles: Soapy spheres pop pollen on fruit trees (BBC)

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Don’t worry, Black Mirror fans, this isn’t what you think it is.

If you’ve had anything to eat today with a plant in it, you may have some bees to thank, since they’re the top pollinators.

In farming, honey bee hives can actually be rented, sent into the fields and they take care of the rest.

But there are lots of concerns that this can be stressful for the bee populations, which are already running into lots of other big challenges.

And while there are plenty of efforts to help the bees get their buzz back, scientists at Washington State University are testing out a system that might give us another way to pollinate.

And since we’re talking about it here, you can probably guess that it involves robots.

The three-year, nearly $1 million project has a goal of developing the technology so that an autonomous device can detect which plants need to be pollinated, and then spread the right pollen to the right plants.

Basically a camera and a robot hand – in fact, they plan to build off of a robotic apple picking system like the one we told you about on the show last year.

I remain concerned about the potential for robots to insert themselves into our food supply and then cut us off completely.

But if I was a bee, this project might make me feel a little less worried about work.

This is not the only alternative pollinating idea out there, though.

Researchers in Japan are testing out a pollination system using soap bubbles, like the ones kids like to create and pop.

They can apparently be filled with pollen and then sent out through a bubble shooter, or even a drone bubble shooter.