“Dad, today I heard that science has proven that the bumblebee can’t fly! That’s crazy! Look at all the bees flying around in our flower garden, “said Mary.
“I’ve heard that story, but what is the question I’ve always told you to ask?” asked Mr. Jones.
“’What’s the evidence?’, or ‘How do they know?’,” said Mary.
“That’s right. In this case I found out that the story got started about 70 years ago in France when two scientists were looking at the large, heavy body and short wings of a bumblebee. Using mathematics, they showed that a tiny airplane, with a body and wings the size of a bee, moving as slowly as a bee, couldn’t fly.”
“But they were wrong, Dad! A bee does fly!”
“Mary, the scientists didn’t say that a bee couldn’t fly…what they actually said was that it would be impossible for a tiny airplane the size of a bee with stiff, immovable wings to fly. Many people misunderstood what was said, and so the false story began,” explained Mr. Jones.
“Wow, look how well they do fly! Look, Dad, that bee just flew backwards,” exclaimed Mary.
“Yes, Mary, they are wonderful flying machines. The bee flaps its wings in a figure eight design. By bending and twisting its wings as it flies, the bee can go any direction – up, down, sideways, backwards, forwards, fly very slowly, or zoom forward at over six miles per hour. The bee can also hover before a flower as a hummingbird does,” said Mr. Jones.
“Why can’t I see their wings when they are flying, Dad?” asked Mary.
“That’s because the bee flaps its wings 200 to 240 times a second. Think of it …while you say, ‘1000 and 1’, the bee could have beaten his wings back and forth 240 times! That’s a fantastic 14,400 beats a minute; much faster than other flying insects the size of bees,” said Mr. Jones.
“Now, watch closely, Mary. See that bumblebee by the big red flower? Watch, and I think you’ll understand why God made short wings on the bee.”
“Whoa! He climbed right into the flower, Dad!” shouted Mary.
“That’s right, Mary. You see God made the bee with four short, powerful wings. To get inside of the flower or hive, the bee folds the two wings on each side of its body over each other, laying them along its back. With long wings that stick out behind its body, the bee wouldn’t be able to turn around in tight spaces. If it had stiff and hard wings like an airplane or a dragonfly, our little friend here, the bee, could not have crawled into that flower.”
“Dad, if I had four winds and flapped them around as fast as the bumblebee does, I’d get them all tangled up!” exclaimed Mary. Mr. Jones chuckled. “Well Mary, God created another amazing design in bee wings. On the front of the back wing is a row of hooks and on the back edge of the front wing is a groove. As the wings unfold for flight the hooks automatically grab the groove and lock the two wings together into one large wing! Upon landing, the two wings unhook and fold over out of the way.” (for a diagram, please see the original publication)
“Wow, Dad, the bee is so cool!”
“That’s right, Mary. And the wing is only one part of a bee. When you look at all the wonderful designs in the bumblebee, you are looking at a creature that never could have happened by chance and accident,” explained Mr. Jones. “The design in a bumblebee could only have been made by someone very smart. That somebody could only be God!’
By Lanny and Marilyn Johnson
Originally published in the May/June 2007 Kids Think and Believe, Too! Check it out for activities and fun.
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