Maths explains how bees can stay airborne with such tiny wings

This article , by Timothy Revell in New Scientist – Short Sharp Science Section looks at how bees and other insects actually manage to take off and fly.

In the article, Timothy says,

“We first realised that bees seem to flout the laws of mathematics in the 1930s. Calculations showed that their wings could not provide enough lift to get their bodies off the ground, but that didn’t stop them.

How bees fly - photo by Stephen Dalton

How bees fly – photo by Stephen Dalton

The bee, of course, flies anyway because bees don’t care what humans think is impossible,” says the narrator at the beginning of 2007’s Bee Movie.

Now a new mathematical analysis has put together a complete picture of how bees, as well as other insects and small birds, actually manage to fly.

Up until the 1990s it was assumed that bees used a continuous flow of air over their wing to generate lift, similar to how commercial planes fly. But in 1996 it was discovered that bees also have tiny tornado-like airflows that form on the leading edges of their wings, known as leading edge vortices (LEVs).

Read the full article in New Scientist here