ScienceDaily reports in Deciphering The Mystery Of Bee Flight that scientists have finally figured out how bees fly.
Their wings beat over a short arc of about 90 degrees, but ridiculously fast, at around 230 beats per second. Fruit flies, in comparison, are 80 times smaller than honeybees, but flap their wings only 200 times a second.
When bees want to generate more power–for example, when they are carting around a load of nectar or pollen–they increase the arc of their wing strokes, but keep flapping at the same rate.
“This is one of those cases where you can make a mistake by looking at an animal and assuming that it is perfectly adapted. An alternate hypothesis is that bee ancestors inherited this kind of muscle and now present-day bees must live with its peculiarities,” Dickinson [professor of bioengineering at California Institute of Technology] says.
Maybe “survival of the fittest” may have to be replaced with “survival of the most persistent.”