According to researchers, bumblebees may be capable of scaling Earth's tallest peaks, flying higher than Mount Everest.
It's difficult for most insects and birds to fly at extremely high altitudes where the air is thin and oxygen is scarce. Flapping wings push against the air to generate lift, and the thinner the air, the less force those wings can produce.
Bumblebees are abundant in high alpine regions. Researchers have long wondered how these tiny flyers were able to navigate the challenges of high-altitude flight and just how high bumblebees could go.
Researchers found that the bees they collected could fly at air pressure equivalents exceeding 24,275 feet (7,400 meters) above sea level, equivalent to some of the lower peaks in Nepal's Annapurna mountain range. Two bumblebees were able to fly at more than 29,525 feet (9,000 meters) higher than Mount Everest.