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Meet 12-year-old Kavya Vignesh is building Robots to save Honey Bees

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Bees, Pixabay

New Delhi, Apr 12, 2017: Just like any other girl her age, 12-year-old Kavya Vignesh likes to have fun when she is not studying. But unlike many others, she likes to make those moments memorable by creating something that helps solve some real-world problems.

Yes, you read that right. These days, she is busy giving final touches to a robot that has the potential to save honey bees in residential areas — and for making a presentation of her bot at an international robotics event to be held in Denmark next month.

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Vignesh, a Class 7 student of Delhi Public School, Vasant Kunj, is part of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious — India’s youngest ever team to qualify for the First Lego League – European Open championship in Aarhus, scheduled for May this year.

Using a combination of robotics and hi-tech components, Vignesh has developed a Bee Saver Bot that removes honey bees — the species primarily responsible for pollination and honey production around the world — safely and carefully without harming them or humans.

“I have been practising Robotics since I was nine. My aim in life is to use the power of robotics to solve some real-world problems,” Vignesh told IANS.

Over the past three years, she has won several robotics championships (Delhi Regional robotics championship 2015 and 2016) and is now excited about representing India in the forthcoming international competition.

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The robot — Lightning McQueen — is made using Lego Mindstorms EV3, the third generation robotics kit in Lego’s Mindstorms line.

Lego Mindstorms is a programmable robotics construction set that gives you the power to build, programme and command your own LEGO robots. The Lightning McQueen uses EV3 large motors, colour sensors that are used for line following, gyro sensor to take accurate turns, and pneumatics for multi-tasking.

The First Lego League championship is organised by FIRST Scandinavia foundation in cooperation with the city of Aarhus, Aarhus University, Aarhus School of Marine and Technical Engineering and IT-forum.

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It will witness some 100 teams and 1,000 children from all over the world competing on their skills in construction, programming and presentation of ideas and solutions while also sharing their culture, values, making friends and having fun.

Here’s why Vignesh chose only honey bees.

“We chose honey bees, because they are mostly overlooked. Bees are mostly killed by us humans through pesticides, colony collapse disorder and many more ways,” Vignesh said.

“We learnt that more than 85 per cent of the world’s crops are pollinated by honey bees. Every third bite of food comes from a bee pollinated crop or animal that depends on bee pollination,” she emphasised.

In general, when people see a beehive near their houses and in parks and the like, they tend to call the pest controllers, who burn the hive, killing nearly 20,000 to 80,000 bees.

“So we thought of building a solution that can safely relocate the beehive without harming the bees,” Vignesh said.

The ‘Bee Saver Bot’ scans the beehive, and relocates it by building an enclosure that safely transports the beehive to the nearest bee farm, without harming any humans or bees.

“This solution can save millions of bees from getting hurt and actually relocate them back to bee farms from where they can be back on the fields where they contribute so much to our food chain,” the robotic champion noted.

In her efforts to participate in the event, Vignesh started crowdfunding through Fueladream — a Bengaluru-based platform that allows for pooling of funds for a cause.

“Although crowdfunding in India has been relatively a new concept, it is growing very quickly,” Ranganath Thota, Founder and CEO at Fueladream, told IANS.

“Funding is the biggest challenge for students in India. Crowdfunding is a very democratic way to tell your stories and use social media and friends to raise money,” he added.

Vignesh’s achievement also earned her praise from Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha.

“Proud of 12-year-old Kavya Vignesh, representing India at the European Robotics Championship in Denmark,” Sinha said in a tweet.

Vignesh, who is also a digital graphic designer, said that she looks up to her mother, Shikha Suman, founder of a health-tech start-up, as her role model.

“Believe in your dream and do whatever you want and don’t let anyone bring you down,” Vignesh said as a message to children.

To parents who put all their focus on their children’s studies alone, Vignesh says, “All work and no play may make children dumb; so they should balance out studies as well as such extra-curricular activities.” (IANS)

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Honey Bees Manage to Stay Cool Even in Hot Summer Days- Study

For the study, the researchers monitored a group of man-made beehives in Harvard University's Concord Field Station.

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Honey bee, beehives
Honey bees live in large, congested cavities, often in tree hollows with narrow openings. Pixabay

Honey bees live in large, congested cavities, often in tree hollows with narrow openings. But thanks to their ventilation strategy they know how to stay cool on hot summer days, says a study by Harvard researchers.

When it gets hot inside the hive, a group of bees crawl to the entrance and use their wings as fans to draw hot air out and allow cooler air to move in, said the study published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

The researchers found that bees use environmental signals to collectively cluster and continuously ventilate the hive.

“We have demonstrated that bees don’t need a sophisticated recruitment or communications scheme to keep their nests cool,” said first author of the paper Jacob Peters from Harvard University.

Honey bee, beehives
A combination of measurements and computational models quantify and explain how fanning bees create an emergent large-scale flow pattern to ventilate their nests. Pixabay

“Instead the fanning response of individual bees to temperature variations, and the physics of fluid flow leads to their collective spatial organisation, which happens to lead to an efficient cooling solution,” Peters added.

For the study, the researchers monitored a group of man-made beehives in Harvard University’s Concord Field Station. The research team measured temperature, air flow into and out of the nest, and the position and density of bees fanning at the nest entrance.

“Over millennia, social insects such as bees have evolved to harness and exploit flows and forces and collectively solve physiological problems such as mechanical stabilisation, thermoregulation and ventilation on scales much larger than the individual,” said senior author of the study L. Mahadevan, Professor at Harvard.

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“A combination of measurements and computational models quantify and explain how fanning bees create an emergent large-scale flow pattern to ventilate their nests,” Mahadevan added. (IANS)