Math Trek: Flight of the Bumblebee, Science News Online, Sept. 11, 2004
: "Obviously, bumblebees can fly. On average, a bumblebee travels at a rate of 3 meters per second, beating its wings 130 times per second. That's quite respectable for the insect world.
How did this business of proving that a bumblebee can't fly originate? Who started the story?
One set of accounts suggests that the story first surfaced in Germany in the 1930s. One evening at dinner, a prominent aerodynamicist happened to be talking to a biologist, who asked about the flight of bees. To answer the biologist's query, the engineer did a quick 'back-of-the-napkin' calculation."
(The story continues.)