Apparently they did, in fact, as the purpose is a bit more altruistic. From io9:
The researchers hope a robotic insect could supplement or replace the shrinking population of honey bees that pollinate essential plant life.and...
Now, while this might sound like some kind of outlandish futurist joke, there are some serious players — and money — involved. Called the "Green Brain Project," it was recently given £1 million (USD $1,614,700) by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), as well as hardware donations from the NVIDIA corporation.
The Green Brain Project could further our understanding of both artificial intelligence and the neuroscientific underpinnings of animal cognition. But also, along with the National Science Foundation-funded Robobees project (led by Harvard University), the advent of an artificial pollinator could provide a solution (either temporarily or permanently) to the problem of dwindling honey bee populations — an organism that's currently dealing with the devastating effects of colony collapse disorder. In fact, the artificial honey bee may be the first of many robots we introduce into the environment to make up for the current era of widespread extinctions.BUT STILL. How long until we're fighting off GIANT SPACE HORNETS?
OUR LASERS ARE VASTLY UNDERPOWERED FOR THIS KIND OF THREAT!