• Question: Why is it that bumble bees shouldn't be able to fly?

    Asked by aneesasharif to Indi, Jarv, John, Ken, Vicky on 14 Mar 2012.
    • Photo: John Prytherch

      John Prytherch answered on 14 Mar 2012:

      I think this is a myth that started because people thought that a Bumble bee’s wings are too small compared with the size of a Bumble Bee’s body to be able to make it fly.

      When scientists have looked carefully at how Bumble Bee wings work, they concluded that in fact they should be able to fly, which is good, because they clearly do!

    • Photo: Jarvist Moore Frost

      Jarvist Moore Frost answered on 14 Mar 2012:

      Just to follow on from John’s answer, I think this quote came from trying to think about bumblebee wings in the same way that we think of wings of big aeroplanes, where they’re large compared to the ‘stickyness’ of air. I don’t think anyone doubted that Bumble Bees could fly, it just suggested that one particular model didn’t work at these sizes!

      Aeronautical engineers are now designing little flying robots with wings a similar size to a bees, which make use of the same stickyness of air to fly with less energy than you would imagine at first.