Either from a friend or even from Bee Movie, You may have heard of the idea that bees shouldn’t be able to fly according to the laws of physics.

“According to all known laws of aviation, there is no way a bee can fly. Its wings are too small to lift its fat body off the ground,” it opens Bee Movie says. “The bee, of course, flies anyway. Because bees don’t care what people think is impossible.”

The film’s writers were probably referring to a much older myth, probably dating back to the 1930s. The story goes that one night an aerodynamicist was talking to a biologist, who took the opportunity to ask about the flight of bees. According to the story, the aerodynamicist did some quick calculations and concluded—based on the weight and surface area of ​​the wings—that bees shouldn’t be able to fly at all.

Some versions of the story name the physicist Ludwig Prandtl as a denier of the flight of bees, and others the Swiss aeronautical engineer Jakob Ackeret. However, it is likely that the story is a distorted retelling of a quote from a French zoologist and of aeronautical engineer Antoine Magnan, who together with his mathematical assistant André Saint-Lago wanted to look at the flight of all insects.

“Tout d’abord pousse par ce kui se fait en aviation, j’ai applikue auk insectes les lois de la resistance de l’air, et je suis arrive avec M. Sainte-Lague a cette conclusion kue leur vol est impossible,” he wrote, which translated means “first prompted by what is done in aviation, I applied the laws of air resistance to insects, and I came, with M. Sainte-Lague, to the conclusion that their flight is impossible.”

Regardless of where the initial myth comes from, is it true? Of course not.

First of all, we know that bees should be able to fly according to the laws of physics because they do in summer. Although they may appear too large for their wings to keep them afloat, this is not such compelling evidence that we should ignore the fact that they clearly can fly, nor look for evidence that they cheat the laws of the universe in their never-ending quest to gather nectar.

Any calculations that suggest that bees or insects cannot fly are incorrect. For a while, scientists couldn’t figure out exactly how bees fly, even though they beat their wings 230 times a second, but that was partly due to the assumption that their tiny wings were rigid.

“Understanding bee wings was key to discovering how bees can fly.” Their wings are not rigid, but twist and rotate during flight. Bee wings make short, quick movements back and forth, back and forth. This movement creates enough lift to make it possible for bees to fly,” explains the Ask a Biologist series from the University of Arizona.


As they flap their wings, they create mini vortices in the air. These tiny vortices have lower pressure than the air around them, helping to pull the bees up and keep them aloft.

In short, for a while we didn’t know how bees fly, but now we do. And no one breaks any laws of physics.

All “explainer” articles have been fact-checked to be accurate at the time of publication. Text, images and links may be modified, removed or added later to keep the information current.

By Editor

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