Honeybees are best pilots on earth


THINK of this situation, you are in a single engine plane which is flying hundreds of metres above the sky and your pilot falls unconscious and unable to control the flight, what are you going to do, will you close your eyes and sleep for your own death in the sky?

Scientists say during swarming honeybees are able to go high in sky up to 400 meters or 1,312 ft above the ground level, sometime at this level they may encounter a powerful wind which may push them out of their map.

The situation may last for several hours causing these bees to lose consciousness and hang in the air for six hours as their small bodies being twisted from one direction to another, when the storm is over worker bees are able to wake up and regain the way to their original destination.

This happens after their smart brain reactivate itself and identify all the marks using a biological clock which use position of the Sun.

History shows that honeybees evolved on Earth about 34 million years ago, the species which dwells in honey producing regions such as Tabora, Iringa, Njombe and Ruvuma are hybrids of European stocks and different African sub species.

At a certain time, the African bees descended from an ancestral stock of cave nesting honey bee species which split into two groups, one migrated into Asia and the largest group moved to East Africa where they become very aggressive to produce large amount of honey than their cousins in Europe.

Fossils records indicate that during the last ice age about 2.6 million years ago, there was a climate changes which affected blossoming of flowers from different plants in different regions of the world including East Africa.

Like other species, African bees lead social life in a colony which is made by a bee queen, which is a fertile female and assumes the responsibilities of laying eggs, drones or fertile males and worker bees or sterile females which tirelessly work for the rest members of a bee hive.

Worker bees also use map during swarming and in their daily main activities which involve going out of the hive and fly randomly over a savannah forest from one flower to another.

This is done with the help of their antennae which use Electrical cues to locate good flower with high quality nectar then to inform her fellow she will dance 70 to 100 times while drawing an eight figure in the air.

While a smart passenger without knowledge in flight may ask for assistance from the ground to land a troubled aeroplane, from the beginning of their lives, it is very important for honeybees to learn how to use map because without it they may waste most of their time to get back to their original hive after going out to visit more than 2,000 different flowers to collect high quality nectar.

Different researches indicate that honeybees use a combination of what the feel and see to adjust their body for a maximum energy efficient and speedy flight, these are smart insects which use their antennae as well as their eyes to calculate the best position for swift flight.

Honeybees always travel to different distant located trees as source for a small amount of nectar, this is a difficult and tricky job so they must adjust their body for a long distant flight just like an aeroplane which flying from Mbeya to Mwanza which need to be a fuel efficient machine.

Morphologically honeybees are structured for long flight, their body are divide into three major parts which at different time play different role for a smooth flight from one point to another.

During a long distant flight a honeybee will raise its abdomen to reduce drag and traction in the air and enable wings to pull the body forward easily for high speeds while using less energy.

Honeybees use their eyes to watch for heavy clouds which may block them but their powerful antennae are used to sense and measure wind speed, this enable them to avoid pockets of air turbulences in the sky.

At the same time, honeybees use their eyes to measure their airspeed, when they want to go faster in the sky they take few seconds to raise their abdomen which allow a smoother movement in the atmosphere.

If swam of honeybees is moving from Nzega to Urambo District in Tabora and during the flight it encounter a powerful wind each individual is required to lower its abdomen to increase traction in the air and avoid being pushed out of their map, this means that honeybees rely on their vision to regulate their flights.

Scientists say honeybees put both their eyes and antennae at work to detect and calculate the speed of airflow on their path in the sky, this means that their small brain workout different equations at one time.

Honeybees have antennae which are used to taste food, they measure vibrations in the air when other bees dance, and they also use it to regulate their flights by detecting wind speed.

This is because honeybees are equipped with a flexible brain which is capable to use information from several senses to control their flight more effectively as it helps them to respond more quickly to changes in a new environment in the sky.

For example, honeybees use their antennae to detect a change in the airflow, this includes a sudden changes on wind flow as a result this will allowing them to adjust their bodies for low or high speed and this is something that other insects are not able to do because they depend mostly on their eyes.

From busy international airports such as Julius Kambarage Nyerere to a small airstrip inside Serengeti national park, landing is challenge to every pilot regardless of type, size or modernity of the plane.

To reduce the speed of the aeroplane to almost zero speed at the time when its wheels hit the ground is not a simple thing which anyone may try to do it.

In Tanzania, from Kigosi, Ugala, Mhuhesi, Kizigo and Swagaswaga game reserves things are totally different because after a long flight honeybees apply special strategy which enables them to overcome any challenge during landing.

When landing on a horizontal surface, honeybees use something called optic flow to determine their speed, this allows them to measure how fast they are speeding toward an object and this is done very quickly the view pass over their eyes.

Instead of an airport, honeybees land on vertical surfaces such as flower petals where they obtain pollen or nectar, these insects are good pilots because the closer they get to the target, the slower they fly.

This is because honeybees slow down their flight speed at a more or less constant speed due to the fact that these insects have unparallel ability to measure the rate of expansion of an image of a landing surface, this enables them to change their speed of approach for a smooth landing.

Air pollution and deforestation in different parts of the world are forcing honeybees to go outside their traditional foraging zones in tropical forests in Africa, this also affects quantity and quality of honey collected from different woodlands in the world.

Contact: rstanslaus@yahoo. com

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