Bumblebees are highest flying insects


This is a video of a bumblebee nest in Ontario, Canada.

From British daily The Independent:

Bumblebees set new insect record for high-altitude flying

Scientists reveal remarkable ability of mountain-dwelling bumblebees to fly in air so thin it would kill a human

By Ian Johnston

Sunday, 1 June 2008

The origin of the notion that bumblebees fly in defiance of the laws of aerodynamics is lost in scientific history. But new research suggests that, despite their apparent physical drawbacks, bumblebees are among the finest flyers of the insect world.

Bumblebees have been discovered on Mount Everest at more than 5,600 metres (18,000ft) above sea level. In scientific tests, several of the bees flew successfully in a flight chamber which recreated the thin air of 9,000m (29,528ft) above sea level, higher than the 8,848m summit of the world’s highest mountain. This is thought to be a record for any insect species.

Scientists behind the research also established that some bumblebees have been living above 4,000m for prolonged periods, with the discovery of a bumblebee nest at 4,400m in the Hengduan Mountains of Sichuan Province, China.

Dr Michael Dillon, a biologist at University of California at Berkeley, has been studying the high-altitude bees found in the mountains, which are on the eastern edge of the Himalayas, near Tibet. He said: “We collected bees at 4,000m, put them in a chamber and sucked air out of it to simulate high altitudes. We took them to 9,000m and they still flew – that’s above the height of Everest.”

To put the feat into context, the summit of Mount Everest is considered right at the limit of human tolerance and if it were just 100m higher, it would be beyond the reach of climbers. Those venturing above 8,000m are said to be entering the “death zone”.

June 2010: Worcestershire’s wildlife enthusiasts are being asked to keep a look out for a new bee. The Bombus hypnorum, or tree bee, arrived in the UK in 2001 and has been steadily working its way north, reaching Northumberland last year: here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.