Sunday, December 04, 2005

Bees Increase Wing Arc When Carrying Pollen

Scientists Abuzz About Finding Secret of Bee Flight
Thomas H. Maugh Ii, Los Angeles Times, 12/4/05

Scientists have long been derided because of mathematical calculations made in 1934 by French entomologist August Magnan proving that, despite visible evidence to the contrary, the flight of bees is "impossible." But now bioengineer Michael H. Dickinson of the California Institute of Technology and his colleagues have shown conclusively how the hefty insects manage their aeronautical excursions.

Dickinson's team used a combination of high-speed digital photography and a giant robotic mock-up of a bee wing to demonstrate the unusual mechanics behind bee flight. The secret, they reported last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is a combination of short wing strokes, rapid rotation of the wing as it changes direction and a very fast flapping frequency. . .

Bees, moreover, do not vary their beating rate when carrying a load. Instead, when burdened with pollen, they increase the arc of their flapping, Dickinson found. (Read More)

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