May 19, 2010

Shopping and Bees

Posted in environment tagged , at 3:28 pm by silivalilife


I usually have a routine walk route around a huge shopping mall. Starting this winter I noticed a bee colony choose  a crack in the wall to build a nest. This is a busy place with a lot of people getting back and forth and I am surprised nobody pays attention.

I was very cautious at first, I still am. I know they can be aggressive in defending their colony if they feel threatened. But then I noticed how careful they are in avoiding me. Those which return back are loaded and it is easy to notice them flying heavily.  The wind sometimes ushers them making difficult to get in and out. They still manage to avoid me. I am not trying to be on their way, no. I am afraid of them. But the ease they change their trajectory amazed me so much I checked some information about them on the web.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060111082100.htm

The flight of the bee was considered a mystery and early 20th century scientists famously calculated that it is aerodynamically impossible because the flops of the wings of hefty bugs cannot keep them aloft.

In recent years the scientists have figured out honeybee flight by the help of the high-speed digital photography, to snap freeze-frame images of bees in motion, and a giant robotic mock-up of a bee wing.

The smaller the insect the faster is flaps for staying afloat. As the aerodynamic performance decreases with size, the smaller insects have to flap their wings faster, for example mosquitoes flap at frequency of over 400 beats per second. The bees expect to flap their wings slowly and to sweep them across the same wide arc as other flying insects, whose wings cover nearly half the circle. But instead the bees’ wings beat over a short arc of about 90 degrees, at the speed of 230 beats per second. Fruit flies which are 80 times smaller flap their wings 200 times a second. When the bees are loaded, they increase the arc of their wing strokes, but keep flapping at the same rate. This also puzzled scientists as aerodynamic efficiency would require not how far they flat their wings, but how fast. This is one mystery to solve yet.

Flight of a bee in slow motion

Another fact we still need to realize, one-third of our food depends on honey bees for pollination.

I noticed the exterminator car by the nest a couple of days ago and thought they will destroy the colony. But they didn’t, I do not know why. Maybe they thought it is dangerous to do anything while people is around and will come later. The nest is still there after two weeks. I hope they decided to relocate  the little workers we depend so much on.

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