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Bumble Bee

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107388.  Thu Oct 26, 2006 1:09 pm Reply with quote

Is it true that the bumble bee shouldn't theoretically be able to fly? Or is that just something I was told and naively believed?

did you know....
107411.  Thu Oct 26, 2006 1:58 pm Reply with quote

why shouldn't it be able to fly?

Not a Number
107431.  Thu Oct 26, 2006 2:32 pm Reply with quote

smiley_face wrote:
Is it true that the bumble bee shouldn't theoretically be able to fly? Or is that just something I was told and naively believed?

That is just something you were told and naively believed. This myth was originated by French entomologist August Magnan, in 1934. He proposed that bumblebee flight went against the laws of physics. Which is completely impossible, of course. Here is the wiki on it:

According to 20th century folklore, the laws of aerodynamics prove that the bumblebee should be incapable of flight, as it does not have the capacity (in terms of wing size or beat per second) to achieve flight with the degree of wing loading necessary, and yet, not being aware of scientists proving it cannot fly, the bumblebee succeeds. The origin of this myth has been difficult to pin down with any certainty: John McMasters recounted an anecdote about an unnamed Swiss aerodynamicist at a dinner party who performed some rough calculations and concluded, presumably in jest, that according to the equations, bumblebees cannot fly.[2] However, in later years, McMasters has backed away from this origin, suggesting that there could be multiple sources, and that the earliest he has found was a reference in the 1934 French book Le vol des insectes by M. Magnan. Magnan is reported to have written that he and a Mr. Saint-Lague had applied the equations of air resistance to insects and found that their flight was impossible, but that "One shouldn't be surprised that the results of the calculations don't square with reality".[3]

It is believed[citation needed] that the calculations which purported to show that bumblebees cannot fly are based upon a simplified linear treatment of oscillating aerofoils. The method assumes small amplitude oscillations without flow separation. This ignores the effect of dynamic stall, an airflow separation inducing a large vortex above the wing, which briefly produces several times the lift of the aerofoil in regular flight. More sophisticated aerodynamic analysis shows that the bumblebee can fly because its wings encounter dynamic stall in every oscillation cycle.

107465.  Thu Oct 26, 2006 3:43 pm Reply with quote

The great thing is that all you have to do to disprove that theory is to look at a bumble-bee. Job done.

107512.  Thu Oct 26, 2006 6:01 pm Reply with quote

Yes. My deductive reasoning appears to have gone right out the window lately!

107645.  Fri Oct 27, 2006 5:45 am Reply with quote

Sadly a lot of people have heard the rumour about scientific analyses "proving" that a bee can't fly, whilst rather fewer have heard that advanced aerodynamics has proved that it is not only possible for a bee to fly but that its wing beats are remarkably efficient for the size of wing.

I say "sadly" because this is often used in a "aren't scientists stupid they don't know anything let's all take homeopathic remedies instead" kind of argument.

It fair does my 'ead in.

Cleverina Clogs
107692.  Fri Oct 27, 2006 7:19 am Reply with quote

Bees flying or not they do make lots of lovely honey for my toast and the propolis makes lovely gel to use as a skincare treatment.

PS. A bee is not an animal, so shouldn't we have an insect (or whatever it is) forum?

107695.  Fri Oct 27, 2006 7:24 am Reply with quote

It is an animal. You're getting muddled up with 'mammal'.

Animals - Plants - Bacteria (roughly) - Fungi

Those are the four kingdoms.

107696.  Fri Oct 27, 2006 7:25 am Reply with quote

Cleverina Clogs wrote:
PS. A bee is not an animal, so shouldn't we have an insect (or whatever it is) forum?

Insects are animals:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Arthropoda

Class: Insecta

107714.  Fri Oct 27, 2006 7:45 am Reply with quote

Gray wrote:
It is an animal. You're getting muddled up with 'mammal'.

Animals - Plants - Bacteria (roughly) - Fungi

Those are the four kingdoms.

Actually six is quite common now:

Animalia - Vegetabilia - Fungi - Protista - Archaebacteria - Eubacteria

Protista are those Eurkaryotes (organisms with / being cells with nucleii) which are not Animals, Plants or Fungi. These are theefore not bacteria, which have no nucleus in their cells (prokaryotes)

The two bacterial varieties are often called just Archaea and Bacteria and represent a very early evolutionary parting of the ways amongst the prokaryotes.

107880.  Fri Oct 27, 2006 11:50 am Reply with quote

I know, I know - I just thought that mentioning those wouldn't help clarify that particular mistake.

'Roughly' is a very useful word. :-)

Cleverina Clogs
108578.  Sun Oct 29, 2006 10:37 am Reply with quote

Insects are animals! Do they know this?

Hans Mof
131436.  Fri Jan 05, 2007 5:20 am Reply with quote

Some bits of General Ignorance on other species in the family of Apidae:

Bees sting and die. Wrong.

Only the workers of the different species of honey bees have barbed stings which detach when embeded in fleshy tissue. The sting can also penetrate the flexible exoskeletal joints of other insects but the sting (and associated venom sac) will not pull free. It is therefore presumed that the stinger apparatus evolved in response to predation by vertebrates. Defense against intruding insects, such as predatory wasps, is performed by surrounding the intruder with a mass of defending bees who vibrate their musclews so vigorously that it raises the body temperature of the intruder to a lethal level.

Some bees don‘t sting but bite.

Only queens lay eggs. Wrong.

Studies at Sheffield University and the ‘Katholieke Universiteit Leuven‘ (Netherlands) show that workers of bees and wasps do lay eggs but theses eggs are ‘stolen‘ by the queen or other workers. German wasps have the most rigid regime. The ‘egg patrol‘ finds and destroys all illegal eggs. Workers are so discouraged by this that only two percent of them try for clandestine motherhood.

sources:; quest magazine (nl)

131470.  Fri Jan 05, 2007 6:58 am Reply with quote

Hans Mof wrote:
German wasps have the most rigid regime.

What a coincidence.


131474.  Fri Jan 05, 2007 7:10 am Reply with quote

German Vasps, surely?




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