Saturday, July 16, 2016

Colliding Bees

Recently we hosted three honey bee hives on our property to help a local beekeeper. We loved seeing more of the little guys in our garden and it was fascinating to watch them. While they can zip and zoom around so fast its amazing to watch them seemingly hold still when they hover a bit. Well its even cooler in slow motion:

Its just funny watching these graceful flyers bump into each other. But there's Physics going on too! The midair collisions demonstrate a few different principles; you can show the video to your students and ask them to identify some.

  • Newton's Third Law: Often as the bees crash into each other they rebound back in the opposite direction. When they don't, what is different?
  • Conservation of Momentum: The bees are approximately the same size and do not become entangled they can bounce apart. What do you know about the the total momentum of the system (two bees) before and after the collision? For higher level students, could you analyze the video in 3D?
  • Ask students what else they notice while watching!

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