How high above ground level can bees fly?

12 October 2008

Question

How high above ground level can bees fly?

Answer

Dave - I think there's a big difference between how high bees can fly and how high they bother to fly. There's not a lot of point in a bee flying more than a few hundred feet above the ground.

Chris - They can't bee bothered?

Dave - ...Because all their food is on the ground where they live. There's not a lot for them up high. You can find bees several thousand metres up in the Himalayas and they're flying around there. They're quite happy flying there. I think the biggest constraint is the temperature. The inside of a bee reaches nearly 50 degrees centigrade because it's using lots of energy, all the chemical reactions happen very quickly inside it. It needs to be very hot. As soon as the temperature drops they don't happen fast enough. The bee can't flap its wings fast enough so it'll fall out of the sky. I think the biggest limiting factor is temperature rather than the altitude.

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