Bee Wing Flapper

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Bees are under threat from neonicotinoids, a permitted pesticide that harms bees, butterflies and other wildlife.

One RML member has made a yellow and black striped bee costume, to wear when protesting about the continued use of these pesticides.

bee ready

Another RML member (IanB) rashly offered to motorise the wings, so they would flap. The offer did not include a guarantee of actual flight.

First things first

Initial ideas centred on an eccentric rotating disk, with cam followers to produce the linear movement. A simpler solution would be to use an electric car door lock mechanism. This gives a powerful linear thrust, even when powered from a small 9v battery.

electric car door lock

Next, the movement has to be translated to two pulls, or pushes, simultaneously in opposite directions (left wing, right wing). A fairly simple linkage was set up based on a scissor action, with the links made from 3mm MDF. These could have been laser cut, but cutting and drilling by hand was quicker.

Power off Power on

Battery and remote switch

A battery holder was 3D printed, and a simple micro-switch on a long flex was connected. The wings move together when the switch button is pressed, and they move apart when the button is released. The micro-switch is intended to be hand-held.

Finished Motor

Making a cover

The motor assembly needed an outer case. A sheet of white acrylic was marked out and drilled with fixing holes. Then it was cut ready for folding. Finally it was heated in an oven (140degC for 2 minutes), and was folded to shape.

Marked Out Cut out

Folding turned out to be more difficult than expected, and the folded cover looked a bit rough. Also, the acrylic had shrunk when heated. The fixing holes no longer lined up and the sides were a bit short. Folded

Cover On


If we can find some black and yellow tape to stick on the cover, perhaps it won't look too bad!