[2017-Vol.14-Issue 1]Functional Morphology and Bending Characteristics of the Honeybee Forewing
Time: 2017-03-14 16:08  Click:312

Volume 14, Issue 1, January 2017, Pages 111–118

State Key Laboratory of Explosion Science and Technology, Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing 100081, China


The present work aimed to reveal the functional morphology and bending characteristics of the worker honeybee (Apis mellifera) forewing. Honeybee wings including the forewing and hindwing, which are mainly composed of veins and membranes, are a kind of typical hierarchical biomaterials. We investigated the cross-sections of membranes, veins and wing hairs through Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). Based on the microscopic observation, it was found that the vein is a thick-walled cylinder, and the membrane possesses multilayered structure and so does the wing hair which shows the thread surface. At the vein-membrane conjunctive position, membranes and veins are assembled seamlessly and veins are packed smoothly and tightly by membranes into a whole, allowing honeybees to perform excellent flapping flight. In such a case, we also conducted the cantilevered bending experiment of honeybee forewing to explore their bending characteristics using a MTS Tytron 250 micro force tester. Experiment results indicate that the anti-bending capacity of the forewing along the spanwise direction is higher than that along the chordwise direction which is partly caused by the wing corrugation along the wing span detected by the micro-Computed Tomography (micro-CT), and ventral load bearing ability is better than dorsal one along the spanwise and chordwise direction of the wing which is due to the stress-stiffening of membranes. It could be concluded that the structural configuration of the wing is closely relevant to wing biomechanical behaviors. All results above would provide a significant support for the design of bioinspired wings for Flapping Micro Aerial Vehicles (FMAV).


  • honeybee forewing
  • functional morphology
  • hierarchical structure
  • bending stiffness

Full text is available at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1672652916603827


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