There’s something pleasing about watching a bumblebee; a ball of fur clumsily bumbling from flower to flower. It’s remarkable how such chubby insects can get airborne. For a long time there was even a myth that it was impossible for them to be able to fly. Physicists have provided the answer but there is still much more to the humble bumblebee than meets the eye.
Whenever a bumblebee’s foot touches a surface, it leaves a scented footprint. Like our fingerprints, these scent marks are unique to individual bumblebees. It’s not just their smelly feet that are impressive; bumblebees can recognise their own scent and distinguish between the scents of their relatives and that of strangers. Knowing which flowers they have visited already and who else has visited, helps improve the efficiency of their feeding.