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Tuesday, 28 July 2009


There are 19,000 known species of bees worldwide and about 260 in the United Kingdom, according to Dave Cushman.  However only six bumblebees are commonly found in our gardens, according to the Natural History Museum and (according to their chart on the previous link) this bee is a Bombus terrestris.  I believe this is the most typical bumblebee that we encounter. There is also a lot of information about these creatures on

In the photo above, the wings of the bee appear so small in relation to it’s body and it reminds me of the science has proved that bees can’t fly urban myth.

The “science has proved that bees can’t fly” urban myth originated in a 1934 book by entomologist Antoine Magnan, who discussed a mathematical equation by Andre Sainte-Lague, an engineer. The equation proved that the maximum lift for an aircraft’s wings could not be achieved at equivalent speeds of a bee. I.e., an airplane the size of a bee, moving as slowly as a bee, could not fly. Although this did not mean a bee can’t fly (which after all does not have stationary wings like the posited teency aircraft), nevertheless the idea that Magnan’s book said bees oughtn’t be able to fly began to spread.

It spread at first as a joke in European universities, at Sainte-Lague’s & Magnan’s expense. But later it became a “fact” among the gullible or the uneducated not smart enough to get the joke. Later still it became a “fun” experiment to develop complex mathematical theories both to explain how insects fly, or why they can’t—scientific intellectual sophism.

And of course last year a scientist “proved” that pterodactyls were too heavy to fly. Let me rephrase that: according to a newspaper a scientist “proved” that pterodactyls were too heavy to fly.

Posted by bigblue on 28/07/2009 at 09:28 AM
Filed under: EuropeUnited KingdomEngland • (2) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share

There are over 1,500 indigenous species of bees in Australia.
The smallest is 2 mm long.
The largest is 12 times longer than that.
They can be coloured red, green, black, grey, yellow, covered in blue polka dots, furry, shiny, fat, or thin.
Australian stingless bees make a tasty and nutritious meal.
Only 1% of Australian bee species are social.  Like the human variety most do not have queens, workers, or drones.
Many do not produce hexagonal honeycomb cells.  Cells can be arranged in pods, or in spiral patterns.

Posted by flank  on  29/07/2009  at  08:52 PM

And of course there are non-native populations of bees which are believed to have a negative effect on the environment: competing for pollinators with natural bee populations and pollinating non-native weeds.

Over here there is a big market for Australian and New Zealand honey.  It is therefore interesting to find out that we probably shouldn’t be supporting these industries as the honey producing bees are aliens.  (I’ve been avoiding imported honey for years in any case because of the food miles issue).

Posted by bigblue  on  09/08/2009  at  02:20 PM

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