How do bumblebees fly?

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Corey Wolffs

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How do bumblebees fly?
« on: 08/07/2008 12:34:15 »
Corey Wolffs asked the Naked Scientists:

I am an art student in Oakland, California and I just wanted to say thank you for such a fantastic show.

I wanted to ask about bees. One day while I was sitting outside, I saw a large bumble bee crawling about while madly beating its wings. I then remembered someone saying that a bee's wingspan was far too small for its massive body and that bee flight was scientifically and aerodynamically impossible. I was wondering if  you at the Naked Scientist could shed some light on this bee-nigma. Thank you.

Corey Wolffs

What do you think?

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Offline DoctorBeaver

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How do bumblebees fly?
« Reply #1 on: 08/07/2008 17:12:21 »
I believe it has something to do with the bee clapping its wings behind its back which creates extra lift. I'm not sure how that works.
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blakestyger

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How do bumblebees fly?
« Reply #2 on: 08/07/2008 17:22:13 »
It's a rural myth!

http://www.maa.org/mathland/mathtrek_09_13_04.html

There are some other links too if you go back from here

[;)]
« Last Edit: 08/07/2008 17:23:46 by blakestyger »

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Offline spaceman

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How do bumblebees fly?
« Reply #3 on: 21/10/2008 23:39:30 »
Corey,
Was the time of day morning?  Was the temperature cool?  It sounds like the bee might have been warming up its flight muscles by vibrating the wings.
Spaceman

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lyner

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How do bumblebees fly?
« Reply #4 on: 27/10/2008 22:34:13 »
The main reason is that you can't just scale aerodynamics. You can't be subjective about such matters. For a bee, the air is very 'thick' compared with how it is on our scale.  Insects will fall at a very low terminal velocity because their weight is so small. For a bee in air, it's almost like it is for humans swimming in water - despite the fact that insects are still heavier than air.