It is previously ‘proven’ that bees cannot fly. So, to learn the forces actually at work during honeybee flight, Michael Dickinson, an insect flight expert and colleagues at Caltech in Pasadena, California, US decided to investigate it. As a result, the curious aerodynamics of bee flight has been explained by researchers, combining robotic modeling with slow-motion videos of airborne honeybees. How vortices rolling along the leading edge of many insects’ wings were a vital source of lift, has been explained in 1996. But on the basis of this theory, scientists are puzzled on how a heavy insect with a short wing beat, such as a bee, generates enough lift to fly!
Dickinson and his colleagues got a reply to this. They filmed hovering bees at 6000 frames per second, and plotted the unusual pattern of wing beats. According to them, the wing sweeps back in a 90˚ arc, and then flips over as it returns – an incredible 230 times a second. The team made a robot to scale to measure the forces involved. According to Dickinson, as the wing changes direction that dominate, it is the more exotic forces created. Although it proves bees can fly, this work may help engineers design rotating propellers or more stable and manoeuvrable aircraft.