Bees’ flight secrets revealed

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Posted on September 11, 2013
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A honey bee robs a comb. Photo by Lynn Ketchum

Honeybees uses a combination of what they feel and see to streamline their bodies and gain maximum ‘fuel efficiency’ during flight, a world first study has found.

Scientists at Australia’s Vision Centre (VC) have found that bees use their antennae as well as their eyes to calculate the best position for swift flight. The discovery could help in the development of robot aircraft, such as insect-like flying machines, say Mr Gavin Taylor and Professor Mandyam Srinivasan of The VC and The University of Queensland Brain Research Institute (UQ).

“Honeybees often have to travel very long distances with only a small amount of nectar, so they have to be as ‘fuel-efficient’ as possible,” says Prof. Srinivasan. “They achieve this by raising their abdomen to reduce drag so they can fly at high speeds while using less energy.”

Previous research has found that honeybees use their eyes to sense the airspeed and move their abdomens accordingly, Mr Taylor says. “When we trick a honeybee into thinking that it’s ‘flying’ forward by running background images past its eyes, the bee will move its body into a flying position despite being tethered.

Read more at: Phys.org



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