# How Do Bees Fly?

## Main Question or Discussion Point

we all have heard about this conundrum,about the bees can't fly because of the whole small surface area of the wings and greater weight than the lift achieved thing.However,there were some articles that I read that this question had been solved, that bees don't flap their wings up and down, they rather move them back and forth, so the general lift formula,L=CL½ρv^2A can't be applied.So, even by moving their wings in such an action, how do they really create so much lift to compensate for their relatively high mass?(try explaining both with text and numerically whenever possible)

## Answers and Replies

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Bystander
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Here is a link to some articles (downloadable!) from a friend of mine who studies this stuff at Stanford. He has his own lab there and he trains birds to fly in wind tunnels, but he also studies insect flight and miniature flapping-wing robot flies.

http://lentinklab.stanford.edu/publications

Thanks bystander and bigfooted!

CWatters
Homework Helper
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http://www.snopes.com/science/bumblebees.asp

Selected quotes..

Claim:
Scientists once proved that bumblebees can't fly.
FALSE
The lift equations for rigid wings are straightforward enough. Bumble-bees are fairly big, weighing almost a gram, and have a wing area of about a square centimetre.Tot up all the figures and you find that bees cannot generate enough lift at their typical flying speed of about 1 ms.

But that doesn't prove that bees cannot fly. All it proves is that bees with smooth, rigid wings cannot glide, which you can show for yourself with a few dead bees and a little lacquer.
So, no one "proved" that a bumblebee can't fly. What was shown was that a certain simple mathematical model wasn't adequate or appropriate for describing the flight of a bumblebee.

Bystander
Homework Helper
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My language skills aren't particularly impressive, however, when going through the "original" article detailing the aerodynamic "analysis" in the original French, I got the impression the "PI" was being deliberately whimsical. Peer reviewed journals aren't written, edited, published, or to be read for entertainment**, leaving an impression at the time that the conclusion (among others in the paper) that bumblebees can't fly was a serious application of aerodynamics, rather than a bon mot inserted on a whim.

** Excepting the notably humorous works of Lysenko, Pons & Fleischman, Hoagland and the Cydonauts, plus assorted lesser lights.

thanx,guys!