Did did you too love studying science and the human body when at school? Me yes, much 🙂 however, today we won’t speak about the human body, but…of the body of the bees! Indeed, to better understand the bee and beekeeping world, it’s very important to ponder about bees’anatomy. How much do you already know about the body of the bees? They have wings, for sure! Legs too! And most probably antennaes as well, if you had the occasion to observe one close enough… and then? With today article we want to point out how, despite their being so tiny, they don’t miss really anything! Don’t worry, it won’t be anything too complicated or boring, but for sure something that makes you understand better our friends bees!
Exploring the body of the bees
Most of the beekeeping manuals that I have read so far have a more or less detailed section about the body of the bees. Indeed, if you want to understand with a deeper awareness their world is for sure essential to have some clearer ideas regarding this topic too. For the same reason, we all study the human body at school. I’d like to go deepen into this matter following the words of the expert beekeeper Paolo fontana, with his book ‘Il piacere delle api‘.
For sure, some details change, according to the fact that we speak about beequeens, worker bees or drones. Nevertheless, here we are simply interested in a general overview. First of all, the body of the bees is covered by an exoskeleon, literally an external skeleton. This is a rather rigid membrane with some more elastic parts that adapt to the movements and growth of the bees. Moreover, the body of the bees is covered by spindle hair, essential for collecting pollen for example.
Let’s start from the top!
Beginning from the head, we find very important sense organs. Such as, the eyes? Bees have eyes, right?? Absolutely yes (from there their colour perception too), but for sure they can’t see exactly like us! Indeed, they have two big eyes composed by many little eyes. For this reason what they can see is composed by many tiny parts like a mosaic. Above there are the antennaes, essential for the perception of colours and smells, but not only. They have even 3 tiny eyes, called ocelli. These are special eyes because they don’t make out images, but they perceive the light intensity. It’s very important for their orientation, since it allows them to localize the sun even when it’s cloudy.
And speaking about the head, what is still missing? Well, the mouth! It is composed by two round and harmless mandibles (they don’t bite you, no worries!). Behind these, you can find the famous proboscis of the bees. Through this, for example, they collect nectar from flowers.
The body of the bees: thorax and abdomen
The abdoment includes the digestive system, the honey bag (where they keep the nectar just collected), but also the reproductive organs. It’s also the part of the body that contains the sting and the wax glands. To the thorax instead, the movement organs are strictly connected. It’s not a coincidence that it’s full of muscles, used when flying, dancing or warming up. Moreover, the legs are annexed right there, and…how many legs do the bees have? Do you know? Try to guess 🙂
Bees have three couples of legs, so in total six. Thanks God! Since they have to do so much with them! With the foreleg for example they clean their antennaes, while with the hindlegs they collect pollen.
Always connected to the thorax, we find the wings, a forewing and a hindwing per side. When they don’t fly, the forewing is folded on the back one, so it looks like just a unique little wing. However, when the bee starts to fly, wings link to each other and make a single big one per side.
It’s increadible how the body of the bees is well-organised and arranged, isn’t it? Which is the feature that impressed you the most? Let us know 🙂 we would like to know what you think!