Our title may sound like a dumb question because obviously bumble bees do fly but no fixed wing study in a conventional wind tunnel has shown how enough lift can be generated to lift the huge mass of a bumble bee (compared to its wing size). A wide range of studies have been done in recent years to try to understand the bee's unique method of flying.
Insects like the bee do not flap their wings up and down as one might think. The movement of their wings is forward and backward. Lay your right hand on the table (palm down) and move it to the left. That is what the bee does as the first part of its wing beat. This movement produces lift because your hand produces the same effect as an airplane wing. Air moving over the top produces a low pressure because of the greater curvature, a principal known as Bernoulli's principal. Now flip your hand over (palm up) and return it to its original position.
Computer studies shown that the timing of the flip is critical. The wake of the forward stroke allows the wing to recapture energy as the wing is moved back. There is a surge of forces on the wing as this happens which provides great lift at minimal energy. Dr. Adrian Thomas of Oxford University says, "The whole system is a lot more complicated than we thought." A lot remains to be done to understand this, but the maneuverability and efficiency of it indicates man needs to understand to improve his own methods of flying.
To suggest that such systems come about by chance strains credibility to the limit. The enormous complexity of the motion, the design of the wings to do the flying, and the support system that moves the wing all speaks of highly planned and designed structures that we still do not totally understand. There is a supreme intelligence whose wisdom is seen in the smallest of creatures on the earth. A designer who teaches us to know of Him "through the things He has made" (Romans 1:20).
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