Remember all those times when you were swimming around and you found a bee struggling in the water? You probably did one of two things: swam away quickly, or did that thing where you scoop the bee up in the cupped palm of your hand, hoping you’d scoop enough water up with it to keep it afloat long enough to be deposited somewhere dry. Well, according to new research, you were probably totally burning that bee. Engineers at the California Institute of Technology who were looking closely at drowning bees found that they were actually creating waves with their wings and — this is the cool part — surfing on them.
A research engineer named Chris Roh started the whole thing when he happened to see a honey bee struggling in Millikan Pond on Caltech’s campus. Because the sun was at just the right spot in the sky, it cast shadows on the bee, which allowed Roh to notice the tiny waves the bee’s wings were creating. Roh talked to his advisor, Mory Gharib, about it, and they decided to do an experiment.