This article explains how bumblebees are marvelous “tankers”, carrying heavy loads, even through wind turbulence, always surfacing to deliver their load of nectar, pollen, or both. The whole article is very interesting. These insects are amazing creatures.
“Bumblebees are important pollinators of crops and wildflowers across the U.S., and they gather heavy loads of nectar and pollen from flowers. A study published Monday shows that the type of food they carry affects how they fly.
That’s because they store nectar in a special pouch inside their abdomen, while pollen gets packed into little hollows in their hind legs. When bumblebees carry a pollen load rather than a nectar load, “they are more stable, but less maneuverable in flight,” according to an online report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Despite what you may have heard, bumblebees do not defy the laws of physics when they fly. Bumblebees are very good at flying in all kinds of weather, says Mountcastle, and they do it while loaded down with cargo.
“What might be surprising to many people is just how much load they’re able to carry,” he says. “Bumblebees are basically aerial tankers.” They can store enough nectar to roughly double their body weight; and they can carry nearly half their own weight in pollen.
When they analyzed the video, they found that the type of cargo did make a difference. In turbulent wind conditions, bees were more stable when they carried weight on their legs — as they do when gathering pollen.
“Conversely though, carrying a pollen load carries a downside when the goal is maneuverability,” says Mountcastle. In calm air, bees with heavy legs were less nimble than bees with fully loaded bellies.
All of this leads to an interesting possibility: Maybe bumblebees consider the wind conditions when deciding whether to gather pollen or gather nectar.”
From NPR: Heavy Loads Of Pollen May Shift Flight Plans Of The Bumblebee