Can Bees Fly Backwards? Is That Really True?

If you’ve been wondering if bees can fly backwards, you’ve come to the right place. The short answer is YES, bees can fly backwards, this ability is thanks to their air navigation system, as well as their muscles, which allows them to map their surroundings and navigate with precision.

When a bee wants to change direction, it simply reorients its wings.

This ability to fly backwards gives bees an advantage when gathering nectar from flowers, as they can easily change direction when necessary.

It will also come in handy when trying to avoid predators or escape from an attacked hive.

How Can Bees Fly Backwards?

It’s a common misconception that bees can only fly forward – but they can actually fly backwards too!

The key to this ability is the bee’s wings, which are specially adapted to fly in all directions.

Each wing consists of two parts: the forewing and the hindwing. The forewings are shorter and narrower than the hindwings and are at a different angle to the body.

This unique design allows the bees to flap their wings independently, giving them greater control over their flight. This allows them to fly forward, backward, up, down and even sideways!

Bees Fly Backwards

Bee Wings

The bee has two pairs of wings attached to the connecting membrane of the second and third rings of the thorax. The wings are actually flattened chitinous air sacs. They have striped thickenings (veins) on them that are used for strengthening, and tracheas, blood and nerves pass through them. The front wing is larger than the rear wing.

At rest, the wings are placed along the body so that the front wing covers the back. On the front edge of the hind wings there is a row of teeth that join the groove on the back edge of the front wings and thus form a unique surface when the bee flies. During the flight, the bee makes 200 movements in one second and flies up to 40 km/h.

The wings move in a vertical direction and in a forward and backward direction so that the tips of the wings describe a figure eight during flight. The wings are moved by two pairs of strong muscles located in the thorax.

The muscles do not grip the wings directly, but rather the movable parts of the skeleton in which the wings are fixed.

One pair of muscles runs in the longitudinal direction, and the other in the transverse direction. The drone has longer wings (11.5 mm) than the crankshaft (9.2 mm) and nut (9.5 mm).

This wing structure gives an affirmative answer to the question “Can Bees Fly Backwards“.

Read the article: What do bees do at night? Can Bees See at Night?

What Type Of Bee Can Fly Backwards?

All types of bees can fly backwards, since all bees have the same wing structure, which allows them to fly in different directions.

The ability to fly backwards makes bees a very efficient pollinator. However, bees aren’t the only insects with this ability — many other flying insects such as wasps and flies also have it.

How Much Energy Do They Use When They Fly Backwards?

Although bees can fly in any direction, they spend most of their time flying forward. Bees use more energy flying backwards than forwards.

When flying backwards, the bees have to flap their wings more often to get the same thrust. As a result, they deplete their energy reserves more quickly when flying backwards.

What The Orientation Flight Of Bees Looks Like?

The bees gradually become familiar with the environment. Even while they are doing work only inside the hive, they occasionally fly out in front of it for orientation.

We see them flying in front of the hive with their heads turned towards it. Later, those flight circles get bigger, the bee gradually gets to know the environment at a greater distance, and it does well outside.

Read the article: How Do Bees Fly, Flight Distance, Speed Of Bee, Bumblebee Flight And More

Round Dance Of The Bee

When a worker bee finds a good food source (nectar), it will fly back to its colony or hive with a sample of nectar and describe to other worker bees the distance to the food source and which direction the foragers must fly in relation to the sun. Given the distance of the food source, the worker bee will use either a circle dance or a plug dance.

If a worker bee finds a food source near the hive, it will communicate the information using a circular dance. This form of dance is performed by the worker bee by moving in a small circle, changing orientation after each or every other circle. A circle dance can last a few seconds, and sometimes a few minutes. During the circular dance, the bees observe the “dancer” and then fly off on their own in search of food.

If the nectar source is further away from the hive, the dancer bee must provide more specific directions and will do this by performing a plug dance. In a typical bee trap dance, the dancer climbs a vertical honeycomb and performs a “figure eight” by briefly moving forward, then returning in a semicircle to the origin or starting point. After that, it moves forward again, describes a semicircle in the opposite direction and repeats the whole sequence.

The angle between the straight stroke in relation to the top of the hive corresponds to the angle at which the bees must fly in relation to the position of the sun, i.e. the direction of the food source is confirmed by the direction of the dance in relation to the position of the sun. During straight movement, the dancer bee twirls its plug or shakes its body.

Read the article: Do Bees Fly In The Dark? Can Bees See At Night Or At Dusk?

The bees watching the dance make a specific sound to let the dancer know to stop and hand them a sample of nectar. The other foragers then leave and briefly scout until they identify the source of the food by the scent given to them.

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