Bumblebees can change their flight dynamics by shifting from nectar to pollen to attain stability.
Researchers recently found how pollens and nectar play a role in the flight dynamics of bumblebees. A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences show the effect on bumblebee flight.
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According to the study bumblebees have different flight patterns based on their load. Either bumblebees carry pollens or nectar. When the bumble bees are carrying nectar their flying ability turns more like a fighter jet.
The fighter jet adds more manoeuvrability. When bumblebees shift their load to pollen their flight turns into a jumbo jet. The jumbo jet flying by bumblebees on pollen is more stable.
The study also reveals bumblebees can carry pollens worth half of their weight. While bumblebees can carry nectar weight nearly equal to their body mass. The research was carried out by aerospace engineer Dr Sridhar Ravi of at RMIT University.
The nectar is stored in the abdomen of bumblebees. The pollens are stored on the legs of the bumblebees. The different loading positions also affect how the bumblebee flies. So when bumblebees are carrying pollens they are more stable.
As the bulk of the weight is carried away from the main body. The bumblebees act like tightrope walkers when carrying pollen. While the nectar is stored in the main body the maneuverability increases. The reason is the focusing of the weight near the center of gravity of the bumblebee’s body.
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14 bees were studied under different conditions in wind tunnel. Robotic flowers were used to study the flight performance of bumblebees. High speed videos measured their flight speeds, acceleration and orientation.