Flying robots suggest bees can’t rely on instinct to land on flowers


drone

This small drone is learning to fly and land like a honeybee

CC BY-SA 4.0 license

Honeybees move quickly from flower to flower, landing easily on each one in turn – but a study involving small drones suggests that the undertaking is more difficult than it looks, implying the bees rely on learning as well as hardwired instinct.

Bees and other insects judge movement using what is called “optical flow” – basically the rate at which things are moving through the field of view.

Optical flow is useful during landing too, particularly to help a bee decelerate. This is because the nearer …



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