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Best Instructional Videos: How Do Bees Fly?

Scientists once struggled to understand the physics behind bee flight. The bumblebee species in particular—with big, rounded bodies and tiny wings—seemingly shouldn’t be able to create the lift needed to fly. We have, however, finally discovered that bees do not, as it was once assumed, fly like airplanes, which have rigid wings. Instead, their wings are flexible, and bees fly by rotating them. This creates pockets of low air pressure, which in turn create tiny “hurricanes” above the bee’s wings, which then lift the insect into the air.

Want to learn more about bees? Check out the EducationWorld lesson The Amazing World of Bees, for grades 4-8.

Education World has compiled some great videos to get kids excited about these unique insects. For each, we include a description and grade level. We also note the video’s capacity for engagement (“cool factor”). 


Slow Motion Bee in Flight

Source:  UltraSlo

Grade level:  Pre-K through 12

Run time:  1:00

Description:  This silent video shows a bee hovering above a flower in slow motion.

Cool factor:  Not only is the video shot in pristine high-definition, but it also shows the same bee hovering from four different angles, which gives students a unique perspective on the bee’s ability to fly. 

Viewing question:  What do you notice about how the bumblebee is using its wings?


Bee Flight: Facts About How Bees Fly

Source:  BBC

Grade level:  6 through 12

Run time:  3:11

Description:  This clip from Richard Hammond’s Invisible World shares information about the aerodynamics of bee flight while also discussing their flight patterns. This video features high production value and, again, slow-motion HD cameras.

Cool factor:  Host Richard Hammond has a knack for making most things seem cool. In addition, this video also includes slow-motion footage of a bee flying in smoke, which shows the exact nature of the insect’s ability to generate lift.

Viewing question:  How many wing beats per minute does a bumblebee use to fly?

Queen Bee’s Wedding Flight

Source:  The Guardian

Grade level:  6 through 12

Run time:  1:10

Description:  This clip of “More Than Honey,” a documentary that investigates the global honeybee crisis, shows a virgin queen bee mating during flight.

Cool factor:  Director Markus Imhoof employed several mini-helicopters outfitted with high-speed HD cameras to capture this amazing event, displaying not only the bumblebee’s unique mating ritual, but also the bee’s strength and command while flying.

Viewing question:  How many sperm does a queen bee retain in her sperm bag after mating?

View the video here.


Watch the Flight of a Bumblebee - Animal Camera

Source:  BBC Worldwide

Grade level:  6 through 12

Run time:  3:45

Description:  Animal Camera host Steve Leonard describes bees’ flight abilities and behaviors and takes viewers through the advanced technology used to capture bee flight.

Cool factor:  From the bumblebee’s ability to fly long distances at high speeds to some great graphic diagrams of bee flight patterns, this clip is full of phenomenal information on bee flight.

Viewing questions:  How much pollen weight can a bee carry during flight? How fast does the bumble bee fly? What’s a “bee line,” and how far can it go?


If you like this resource, then you’ll enjoy the lesson “Bees and Electric Fields” from ListenCurrent. 

Last updated 6/09/2015. 

Article by Jason Papallo, EducationWorld Social Media Editor
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