There has been a lot of research lately, involving these priceless pollinators, in an attempt to find out more about them and maybe provide solutions to help prevent the decline in the bees population, which has become increasingly worrying for authorities.
A new research carried out by experts at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia and Harvard University looked at the flight dynamics of bumblebees. They discovered that these were greatly influenced by their cargo.
More precisely, their flight is altered depending on whether they carry pollen or nectar. When they carry pollen between their legs, their flight is more stable. However, when they carry nectar in the pouch located on their abdomen, they are more agile.
This confirmed the researchers’ theories regarding their flight and enabled them to provide a plausible explanation for it. It seems that bees have more stability when they carry pollen because it stabilizes their weight better.
On the other hand, nectar allows the flight to be more maneuverable because it is close to the insect’s gravitational center.
“We found that when bees carry a pollen load rather than a nectar load, they are more stable but less maneuverable in flight, supporting the concept of a tradeoff between stability and maneuverability-a notion that is frequently suggested but has rarely been tested, particularly in flying insects,” said the researchers.
Sridhar Ravi, one of the researchers from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia, explained that if something is maneuverable, it is not going to be stable and when something is stable, it is most likely not going to be maneuverable. This means there is a “trade-off between stability and maneuverability.”
They carried out the experiment in a wind tunnel, using professional technology to record and measure their flight both while they carried various loads of nectar and while they carried pollen.
Bees choose their load not only according to the needs of the colony they belong to, but also according to the weather conditions. Thus, if the weather is windy, they will most likely carry pollen, as they have more stability and are able to have control over their flight.
Weather is generally not a problem for bees because they are known to be able to fly in any conditions.
The results of the study were published in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Image Source: acueastwest