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Motivation Tuesday: The Bumblebee Shouldn’t Be Able to Fly, or Should It?

bumble beeAerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn’t know it, so it goes on flying anyway.

– Mary Kay Ash

The popular motivation quote about the bumblebee (or bumble bee) and why it shouldn’t be able fly has been questioned as to its accuracy. They call it “the bumble bee argument”. The dictionary definition of the bumblebee is “a large hairy bee with a loud hum”. This is a motivation post, so it’s not about questioning the quote but to see how we can still apply it knowing what science knows today.

Humans previously had a certain notion of how animal (including insects) wings operate. This was before technological advances allowed us to find out more. We thought they all flap their wings up and down as we saw in birds.

Sure, the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly, based on certain aerodynamics as we understand them. However, scientists have since found out that bees flap their wings in a totally different way.

For one, bees flap their wings an incredible 230 times per second. Compare that with fruit flies, whose wings flap 200 times per second. The smaller insect (in this case the fruit fly) generally should have to flap its wings faster to be airborne, to compensate for decreased aerodynamic performance. But this is isn’t the case.

Secondly, bees flap the wings back and forth, not up and down as previously imagined. This, scientists assert, creates vortices in the air like small hurricanes, which is what lifts the bee upwards.

To cut a long explanation short, the bumblebee does not actually defy the laws of physics, it works with them. If you believe in science, it has evolved and found a way to work with the laws of physics and fly despite its awkwardness. If you believe in creation, the creator gave it its unique dynamics.

Therefore, the motivational factor does not disappear as far as the bumblebee its ability to fly goes. It has found a way to make things work for it despite its disadvantage. Which is what we should be doing as humans when faced with challenges, right?

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