Surfing Honeybees

Forward view of a honeybee surfing

Honeybees have superpowers when it comes to their aerodynamics and impressive pollen-carrying, but their talents don’t end in the air. A new study confirms that honeybees can surf. Wet bees cannot fly–their wings are too heavy for them to get aloft when wet–but falling into a pond isn’t the end for a foraging honeybee.

Instead, the bee flaps its wings, using them like hydrofoils to lift and push the water. This action generates enough thrust to propel the bee three body lengths per second. It’s a workout the bee can only maintain for a few minutes at a time, but researchers estimate honeybees could cover 5-10 meters in that time. Once ashore, the bee spends a few minutes drying itself, and then flies away no worse for the wear. (Image and research credit: C. Roh and M. Gharib; via NYTimes; submitted by Kam-Yung Soh)

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