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A new video, released today by the National Geographic Channel, shows the moment an entire swarm of bees crashed onto a car on the tarmac at New Jersey’s Kennedy International Airport this week:
The bees, which included the queens, are part of an impressive swarm of hundreds of millions of bees traveling as part of a massive experiment that will eventually help scientists better understand their pollination need. While the original goal was to use the bees to understand the impact of climate change on pollinators, the bees are also learning how to behave more naturally, scientists said.
While they might not be quite as “natural” as a flock of birds, these bees are the first ones ever to successfully travel in large numbers without being trapped, according to the scientists working on the project.
To understand how the swarm managed to find a car, National Geographic said the entire swarm was monitored and tracked by scientists from the University of Manitoba, UBC and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where it was stashed in a vacuum-sealed cell. The cell had been designed not simply to house the bees, but to also act as a storage area while they worked. Scientists said it allowed the swarm to work efficiently, avoiding the pitfalls that would get the bees trapped, or even worse, die.
To understand how the swarm discovered the car, the scientists used a unique combination of computer models and drone video as well as the bees, to identify the specific spots the bees moved to as part of the swarm’s strategy. By using high-speed cameras and drones, the scientists were also able to identify the bees’ “staging area,” that is, where they stayed to begin developing their queen, so they got to know each other properly before they started attacking the car.
The scientists were also able to figure out why the swarm seemed distracted by the car. According to National Geographic, one scientist explained that the insects might have been distracted by the driver’s hand being on the steering wheel while the car was moving slowly down the runway. Another scientist theorized that the bees likely just were “staring out in the dark” for too long.
Watch The Bee Hives In Action Here:
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