NASA did not affirm that the flight of bees goes against aerodynamic principles

Actually, the text belongs to a motivational talk taken out of context in which a member of NASA sought to motivate a student to pursue her dreams.

A text circulates on social networks accompanied by an image where it is stated that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA for its acronym in English) shares a poster that says: “Aerodynamically, the body of a bee is not made to fly; the good thing is that the bee does not know it» (sic).

The text is justified by saying that the wings of the insect are too small to support its body in the air and that the bees, by ignoring the laws of physics and their logic, is how they can fly.

This is false, there is a physical explanation for the flight of bees and also, there is no evidence of the alleged poster. And in many of the shared posts, the image does not correspond to a bee, as the post says; but a bumblebee.

Twitter is where it has gone viral the most, the publication has obtained more than 152,000 “likes” and 17,000 retweets until the moment of verification, according to the social network itself.

Among the interactions you can read reactions of all kinds: «God breaking the rules of physics with his designs. Spectacular”, “No, No, No. NASA is the one that doesn’t know physics. If the bee flies, it is because they believe that they know all the laws and thus it shows them that it is not true. The question water would be. Do you believe in NASA? (sic).

With verification tool Google Reverse Image Search the origin of the image that was shared along with the text was searched. When inserting it into the search engine, Google detected that it was not about bees but a Bombus Terrestris; a bumblebee However, it was impossible to find the origin of the photograph.


Although both bees and bumblebees look similar and share a taxonomic family, the latter is larger and belongs to the genus bumbuswhich has more than 250 species.

Along with this, the tool was also used RevEye Reverse Image Search: through different search engines in different languages, it was found that the text next to the image has also been reproduced in the languages portuguese and english; none show evidence of the cartel.

The probable origin of the myth of the bees

Once this was done, we proceeded to place in the Google search engine: “NASA Bumble bee can’t fly” (“NASA bumblebee can’t fly” in English). The only result associated with the official website of the space agency is an entry in the “Education” section entitled: “Legends, Traiblazaers Inspire NASA’s Future.”

In the post dated August 4, 2010, it talks about a scholarship awarded by the NASA Offices of Education to hundreds of minority students. This consisted of visiting some facilities, meeting legends and pioneers of the agency.

With the motto: “it is never too late to follow your dreams”, the students received motivational messages from NASA members in a forum as part of the activities.

One of these messages – transmitted by the Dr. Julian Earls – It is just the one that has been replicated on social networks, although slightly modified. This was part of the answer to keoshaa 10th grade girl who dreamed of being a gynecologist in the future.


The text makes it clear that it was done in a motivational and non-scientific context. A paragraph above mentions: “It may seem like a distant dream, but the goal of the forum was to dream big, achieve the impossible, spread your wings and fly.” Even Earls himself said: “She just flies all over the place and that’s what you (Keosha) have to do.”


The example used is no coincidence, since this idea seems to date back to 1934 when the French entomologist Antonie Magna and his assistant André Sainte-Laguëcalculated that the flight of the bees was “aerodynamically impossible”, this according to Caltech.

How do bumblebees fly?

The flight of bees has been studied by the scientific community for more than 70 years. In 2005, the biology professor and insect flight expert at the University of Washington, Michael Dicksonpublished a study on the flight of the bumblebee in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

According to Dickson, the secret to flying of these insects is contrary to the false belief that bumblebees flap their wings up and down, they do; although to a lesser extent.

Actually, the movement is somewhat more complex, since they do it forwards and backwards, but with a certain angle of inclination.

LiveScience offers a video on YouTube where you can see the particular movement with which bumblebees are capable of flying.

The combination of the above plus the speed of the execution helps create vortices in the air, which means that the pressure inside them is lower than the outside, allowing you to stay in the air.

In conclusion

Therefore, it can be ensured that the post is false. Although it is true that part of the information has been taken out of context; There is no such poster nor is it announced by NASA, but rather it was from a motivational talk shared in a program for the promotion of science.

Although bumblebees ‘defy’ aerodynamics since their evolution has created an unconventional mechanism for their flight; there is a concise explanation for it that does not refute or compromise any principle of aerodynamics.

Not to mention that the vast majority of this hoax is accompanied by a photo that does not correspond to the text.

The Brazilian site of E-Farsas came to the same conclusion in 2020.

This article is original from the Mexican fact-checking outlet Verificado, which is part of the Latam Chequea network, like Mala Espina.

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