Study: A strange effect is initiated when honeybees pass over a mirrored surface

Fareeha Arshad

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In a study that dates back to 1963, researchers discovered that honeybees initiate a strange effect when they move in the air. According to the study, honeybees could cross a lake only when it showed signs of ripples over its surface. On the contrary, if the lake was smooth and did not have waves on the surface and instead appeared like a mirror, the bees would crash into the lake and not make it to the other side.

The researchers at the time concluded that such an odd behaviour could be attributed to visual signals the bees use while they fly. However, a recent study has added further details to this exciting study. In the study published in the journal ‘Biology Letters’, researchers have concluded that this strange behaviour can be because honeybees monitor the speed of the ground below them to balance their flight.

In the March 2022 study, researchers performed the experiments using honeybees within a rectangular tunnel lined with mirrors on ceilings and floors that can be covered to make them appear like regular walls. The researchers observed that when the ceilings and floors were mirrors, the bees could not maintain their height during their flight. They could only fly for three inches before they crashed into the ground.

The conclusions of the research were found to be closely similar to the spatial disorientation phenomenon. This happens especially to the pilots when they cannot figure out the speed of the ground and thus cannot maintain the height of their aircraft. This is why the instruments in the aircraft are critical to helping them control such spatial illusions and maintain the plane’s height even if there are no indicators on the ground.

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I am a scientist by profession and a historian by passion. I write about current affairs, history, science, and lifestyle.

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