The humble bee is one of nature’s most intriguing insects and is capable of flying long distances while carrying heavy loads. Yet they have a relatively unique way of flying, which some say “is impossible” and because of this, bees shouldn’t be able to fly.
This is a question that dates all the way back to the 1930s when a French entomologist Antoine Magnan found that the way bees fly was actually aerodynamically impossible. This is because the haphazard flapping of their wings shouldn’t keep them in the air, yet it does!
So how do we explain this? Well to find out let’s take a look at the laws of aviation…
According To All Known Laws Of Aviation
So what keeps an object or in this case bees in the air? Well, according to the laws of aviation, the lift generated by an object in flight is a result of its wings pushing air downwards and thus creating an upward force.
This then means that for an object to generate enough lift for flight, it needs to have long and narrow wings which can create enough airflow over its surface area much like a place or a bird. But, this isn’t what we see with a bee!
In fact, there was a recent study at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, using high-speed digital photography, to freeze-frame and capture images of bees while airborne.
They concluded that bees use a combination of short, choppy wing strokes, and a rapid rotation of their wings to create lift and change in any direction!
They were also very surprised by the bee’s rapid flapping of their wings and found that the smaller the insect the faster its wings flap.
Because the aerodynamic performance decreases with their size, this means that the insect has to compensate and flap their wings faster.
Can Bees Survive If They Can’t Fly?
There’s no such thing as a bee that cannot fly! and if one can’t fly it’s usually because of an injury that has caused it to lose the ability. If a bee does lose its wings it will eventually die!
So the answer is a definite no! Bees depend on their ability to fly and collect pollen and nectar from flowers. If they lose their wings or are otherwise unable to fly, they won’t be able to survive.
Bees can also become easy prey for predators like spiders and other larger insects or animals if they don’t have the ability to fly away.
Bees Shouldn’t Be Able To Fly Myth
So, after all this, can we finally answer the question ‘Shouldn’t Bees Be Able to Fly?’ The answer is no.
Despite having a seemingly odd way of flying, bees have evolved over time and adapted their wings to become incredibly efficient at flying!
So the myth about bees shouldn’t be able to fly is true, but only in the most technical sense of the word! The reality is that they can, and do, fly. So don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
To sum up, yes it is true that bees should not be able to fly according to all known laws of aviation due to their short and round wings which generate too little airflow or lift for them.
However, through their incredible stamina and tireless flapping, they are able to fly and stay aloft for hours. This just goes to show how remarkable these insects can be!