The Flight Of The Bumble Bee

Updated: 28th January 2021

Here, you can watch a beautiful video of the flight of the bumble bee, and listen to the famous tune by Rimsky Korsakov or download his sheet music for free.

But first, how do bumble bees fly?  

How Do Bumble Bees Fly?

In one sense, bumble bees are an aerodynamic mystery. They have large fat bodies in comparison with their delicate small wings.

However, their bodies have sufficient muscular power to make their wings beat an incredible 200 times per second. In addition, they use their legs to balance their bodies further, and twist their wings to gain maximum lift.  Not only can bumble bees fly, they can also hover, and one species, Bombus impetuosus is able to hover at conditions and height comparable with Mount Everest.

bumble bee flying pale pink toward holly hockBumble bee in flight

Bumble bees also have sensory hairs in their antennae which are involved in regulating flight movements by detecting the flow of air across the antennal surface. (From Bumblebees, by Ted Benton).

Watch the flight of a bumble bee:

Flight Of The Bumble Bee - Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov (1844 - 1908)

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, composer of The Flight Of The Bumblebee was Russian, and began composing at the age of 10 years old.

He composed the piece for his opera, The Tale of Tsar Saltan, which he wrote between 1899 and 1900. The piece features at the end of Act III, during which the magic Swan-Bird changes Prince Gvidon Saltanovich (the Tsar's son) into an insect so that he can fly away to visit his father (who does not know that he is alive).

Gingery coloured bumble bee (Bombus pascuorum) in flight toward raspberry flowers

Here is the text of the scene where the Swan-Bird sings during this music:


Well, now, my bumblebee, go on a spree,
catch up with the ship on the sea,
go down secretly,
get deep into a crack.
Good luck, Gvidon, fly,
only do not stay long!

(The bumble bee flies away).

Listen to the music:

Download the free sheet music by Rimsky Korsakov Flight Of The Bumblebee sheet music sheet music (opens new window).

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