March 16, 2017

How much technology would it take to replace a bee? That’s the question industrial-design student Anna Haldewang aims to answer with Plan Bee, a hand-size drone that detects flowers with an ultraviolet camera, then uses a suction mechanism to suck pollen from one plant and blow it into another. For now, the product prototype–which won’t hit the market for at least two years–is meant to help people understand how bees pollinate, says Haldewang, adding that she has no plans to “take over the bee population.” But similar technology may soon be necessary on a larger scale, as pesticides and climate change threaten the future of bee colonies around the world–and, by extension, the crops they pollinate.

For more on these stories, visit time.com/ideas

This appears in the March 27, 2017 issue of TIME.

Write to Julia Zorthian at julia.zorthian@time.com.

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