A recent study suggests that the honeybees are world-class surfers. The study revealed that female bees have the responsibility to search for water to cool the hives. If the honeybee falls in a water body, their wings cannot be used in flying. But, by using their arms, they can travel to the nearest land just like surfers. A research team at the California Institute of Technology found that the survival instinct is responsible for the development of such skill.
The discovery of such rare property of honeybee came out of an accident, just like Sir Issac Newton’s discovery of gravity. Dr Chris Roh, the lead author of the research paper, discovered the skill while walking across Caltech’s Millikan pond in 2016. While walking through the road, Roh saw waves generated by a honeybee in the lake. He was initially surprised by the rare property by the bee. And later, he decided to carry research on the unnoticed topic.
Dr Chris Roh and Morteza Gharib, the co-author of the study, catch honeybees using butterfly nets to observe their water movement. They carefully watch the actions of the honeybees in water. They found that the honeybees are bending their wings at 30 degrees for pulling water and move forward. Researchers also found that bees can swim for 10 minutes continuously.
Except for honeybees, the surf-like movement has not recorded for any other insects yet. Most of the insects use their legs to move forward in the water body, commonly known as water-walking. Researchers are predicting that the unique ability of honeybees came by evolution. Stonefly’s paddling motion is the closest documented motion form, but it is entirely different than surfing.
Application in the Real World
Both the researchers claimed that their study would help to design a robot that can fly as well as swim. They have made a model robot that can swim. The next challenge is to make the design light enough to fly.