This movie requires Flash Player 8. Download Flash Player 8

Issue Features
View this issue online as it looks in print
Discovery Magazine 11/1/2004

Oh, to Be a Bee

by  Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to fly—without being in an airplane? Imagine being an eagle, and being able to soar over wide-open spaces. Or, imagine being a hummingbird, and being able to “stand still in mid air” over a flower while you drink its nectar. Or, imagine being a bumblebee.

A bumblebee?! A big, fat, hairy, bumblebee? Yep. A bumblebee. When scientists first looked at the bumblebee, they had trouble believing the creature could even get off the ground, much less fly. Bumblebees have wings that are small in relation to their bodies. An airplane built with the same proportions would never fly. Bumblebees seem to be a poor choice to join elegant eagles and hovering hummingbirds as wonders of the air.

But they are just that—wonders of the air! A bumblebee does not have fixed wings (like an airplane). Rather, it is more like a helicopter with flexible blades. The bee’s wings can be bent and twisted as they flap up and down to help its flight. A bumblebee can flap its wings at a rate of 130 times per second by using muscles in its abdomen. Changes in stroke patterns create many different air-related forces. Insect wings do not flap like doors on hinges. Rather, the tip of each wing moves in an oval pattern. Also, the wings “flip” during each beat: the topside
of the wing faces up during the downstroke, and down during the upstroke. As a result, air moves over the wings and lifts the tiny bumblebee into the sky. By changing the angle of its wings, the plump bee can choose to hover, fly very slowly, or zoom forward at more than six miles per hour.

The eagle has nothing on the humble bumblebee! Size isn’t everything. An insect that scientists once thought shouldn’t fly, can—and very well! Did the bumblebee’s incredible design “evolve by chance”? Or is it the result of God’s design? Do airplanes “just evolve by chance”? Hardly. Neither did the bumblebee. As the Bible says, “He that built all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4). Eagles to insects, God designed every one of them. Remember that, the next time you see a hairy, humble bumblebee.

Copyright © 2004 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

*Please keep in mind that Discovery articles are written for 3rd-6th graders.

This document may be copied, on the condition that it will not be republished in print unless otherwise stated below, and will not be used for any commercial purpose, as long as the following stipulations are observed: (1) Apologetics Press must be designated as the original publisher; (2) the specific Apologetics Press Web site URL must be noted; (3) any references, footnotes, or endnotes that accompany the article must be included with any written reproduction of the article; (4) textual alterations of any kind are strictly forbidden; (5) Some illustrations (e.g., photographs, charts, graphics, etc.) are not the intellectual property of Apologetics Press and as such cannot be reproduced from our site without consent from the person or organization that maintains those intellectual rights; (6) serialization of written material (e.g., running an article in several parts) is permitted, as long as the whole of the material is made available, without editing, in a reasonable length of time; (7) articles, excepting brief quotations, may not be offered for sale or included in items offered for sale; and (8) articles may be reproduced in electronic form for posting on Web sites pending they are not edited or altered from their original written content and that credit is given to Apologetics Press, including the web location from which the articles were taken. Further, documents may not be copied without source statements (title, author, journal title), and the address of the publisher and owner of rights, as listed below.

For catalog, samples, or further information, contact:

Apologetics Press
230 Landmark Drive
Montgomery, Alabama 36117
Phone (334) 272-8558

Web Store

Defending the Faith Study Bible

We are very excited to announce the NEW AP Defending the Faith Study Bible now available.

Featured Audio


Click the following link to visit our Multimedia section.

Featured Audio