Navigation Links
Final moments of bee landing tactics revealed
Date:12/23/2009

Landing is tricky: hit the ground too fast and you will crash and burn; too slow and you may stall and fall. Bees manage their approach by monitoring the speed of images moving across their eyes. By slowing so that the speed of the looming landing pad's image on the retina remains constant, bees manage to control their approach. But what happens in the final few moments before touch down? And how do bees adapt to landing on surfaces ranging from the horizontal to upside-down ceilings? Flies land on a ceiling by simply grabbing hold with their front legs and somersaulting up as they zip along, but a bee's approach is more sedate. Mandyam Srinivasan, an electrical engineer from the Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland and the Australian Research Council's Vision Centre, knew that bees must be doing something different from daredevil flies. Curious to know more about bee landing strategies Srinivasan teamed up with Carla Evangelista, Peter Kraft, and Judith Reinhard from the University of Queensland, and Marie Dacke, visiting from Lund University. The team used a high-speed camera to film the instant of touch down on surfaces at various inclinations and publish their discoveries about bee landing tactics in The Journal of Experimental Biology on December 28 2009 at http://jeb.biologists.org.

First the scientists built a bee-landing platform that could be inclined at any angle from horizontal to inverted (like a ceiling), then they trained bees to land on it and began filming. Having collected movies of the bees landing on surfaces ranging from 0deg. to 180deg., and every 10deg. inclination between, Evangelista began the painstaking task of manually analysing the bees landing strategies, and saw that the bees' approach could be broken down into 3 phases.

Initially the bees approached from almost any direction and at any speed, however, as they got closer to the platforms, they slowed dramatically, almost hovering, until they were 16mm from the platform when they ground to a complete halt, hovering for anything ranging from 50ms to over 140ms. When the surface was horizontal or inclined slightly, the bees' hind legs were almost within touching distance of the surface, so it was simply a matter of the bee gently lowering itself and grabbing hold with its rear feet before lowering the rest of the body.

However, when the insects were landing on surfaces ranging from vertical to 'ceilings', their antennae were closest to the surface during the hover phase. The team saw that the antennae grazed the surface and this contact triggered the bees to reach up with the front legs, grasp hold of the surface and then slowly heave their middle and hind legs up too. 'We had not expected the antennae to play a role and the fact that there is a mechanical aspect of this is something that we hadn't thought about,' admits Srinivasan.

Looking at the antennae's positions, the team realised that in the final stages as the insects approached inverted surfaces, they held their antennae roughly perpendicular to the surface. 'The bee is able to estimate the slope of the surface to orient correctly the antennae, so it is using its visual system,' explains Srinivasan. But this is surprising, because the insects are almost completely stationary while hovering and unable to use image movement across the eye to estimate distances. Srinivasan suspects that the bees could be using stereovision over such a short distance, and is keen to test the idea.

Finally the team realised that bees are almost tailor made to land on surfaces inclined at angles of 60deg. to the horizontal. 'When bees are flying fast their bodies are horizontal, but when they are flying slowly or hovering their abdomen tilts down so that the tips of the legs and antennae lie in a plane that makes an angle of 60deg.' explains Srinivasan: so the legs and antennae all touch down simultaneously on surfaces inclined at 60deg. 'It seems like they are adapted to land on surfaces tilted to 60deg. and we are keen to find out whether many flowers have this natural tilt,' says Srinivasan.

Srinivasan is optimistic that he will eventually be able to use his discoveries in the design of novel flight control systems.


'/>"/>

Contact: Kathryn Knight
kathryn@biologists.com
44-078-763-44333
The Company of Biologists
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Cements basic molecular structure finally decoded
2. Aware, Inc. Announces Final Results of Dutch Auction Tender Offer
3. Final frontier: Mission to explore buried ancient Antarctic lake given green light
4. Substantial work ahead for water issues, say scientists at ACS Final Report briefing
5. Finalists announced in the Elsevier Grand Challenge
6. NTP finalizes report on Bisphenol A
7. Elsevier announces 10 semi-finalists for the Elsevier Grand Challenge
8. Researchers hack final part of the immune system code
9. Final preparations for first human-rated spacecraft to be lauched from Europes Spaceport
10. Folate mystery finally solved
11. Chemists make beds with soft landings
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/3/2016)... June 3, 2016 ... Nepal hat ein ... hochsicherer geprägter Kennzeichen, einschließlich Personalisierung, Registrierung und ... der Produktion und Implementierung von Identitätsmanagementlösungen. Zahlreiche ... im Januar teilgenommen, aber Decatur wurde als ...
(Date:6/2/2016)... NEW YORK , June 2, 2016   The ... (Weather), is announcing Watson Ads, an industry-first capability in which ... advertising, by being able to ask questions via voice or ... Marketers have long ... with the consumer, that can be personal, relevant and valuable; ...
(Date:6/1/2016)... YORK , June 1, 2016 ... Technology in Election Administration and Criminal Identification to Boost ... to a recently released TechSci Research report, " Global ... By Region, Competition Forecast and Opportunities, 2011 - 2021", ... 24.8 billion by 2021, on account of growing security ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)...  Sequenom, Inc. (NASDAQ: SQNM ), a ... the development of innovative products and services, announced today ... States denied its petition to review decisions ... U.S. Patent No. 6,258,540 (",540 Patent") are not patent ... Supreme Court,s Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories decision.  ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... PHILADELPHIA , June 27, 2016  Liquid ... today announced the funding of a Sponsored Research ... study circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from cancer patients.  ... changes in CTC levels correlate with clinical outcomes ... therapies. These data will then be employed to ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... ... Researchers at the Universita Politecnica delle Marche in Ancona combed medical journal articles ... findings are the subject of a new article on the Surviving Mesothelioma website. ... blood, lung fluid or tissue of mesothelioma patients that can help point doctors to ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 A person commits a crime, and the ... track the criminal down. An outbreak of foodborne ... Administration (FDA) uses DNA evidence to track down the bacteria ... far-fetched? It,s not. The FDA has increasingly used a complex, ... foodborne illnesses. Put as simply as possible, whole genome sequencing ...
Breaking Biology Technology: