As honeybees accumulate pollen and nectar from flowers, they repeatedly bend and straighten their abdomens – but with a minimal quantity of friction. Scientists have now found what makes this attainable, and it may have functions in human technology.
Led by Jieliang Zhao from the Beijing Institute of Technology, and Shaoze Yan from Tsinghua University, a group of Chinese scientists not too long ago examined the overlapping outer plates that make up the belly exoskeletons of honeybees. Even although these plates slide in opposition to each other because the stomach flexes, there was little proof of wear and tear and tear.
Utilizing a scanning electron microscope, the researchers noticed that the surface surfaces of the plates had been coated in tiny branched hairs. In order to see if these hairs scale back friction, the scientists proceeded to maneuver an exoskeletal section throughout two surfaces – one was coated with the hairs, and one was not.
It was discovered that when a given load was utilized to the section, the quantity of friction generated in opposition to the furry floor was considerably lower than that on the hairless floor. What’s extra, when the load was elevated, the friction on the hairless floor elevated accordingly, but there was virtually no change within the friction on the floor with the hairs.
Based on these findings, the scientists decided that throughout the belly actions that are a part of regular flower-foraging exercise, the hairs scale back abrasion by about 60 %. Not solely does this permit the exoskeletal plates to last more, however it additionally reduces the quantity of vitality required to flex the stomach – thus permitting the bees to forage longer.
It is now hoped that comparable artificial microstructures may in the end be integrated into longer-lasting, extra energy-efficient devices, such because the actuators and hinges utilized in comfortable robotics.
A paper on the analysis was not too long ago revealed within the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.
Source: American Chemical Society