Sunday, January 8, 2023

2023 Representatives Crowned in Jacksonville

The new American Honey Queen and Princess were selected at the 80th Anniversary American Beekeeping Federation Convention in Jacksonville, Florida.

2023 American Honey Queen
Selena Rampolla from Florida

2023 American Honey Princess
Allison Hager from Iowa

Congratulations ladies! They will travel the United States promoting honey and beekeeping and post interesting articles about bees and honey along the way. Keep an eye out for the sweetest representatives in America!

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Counting for Honey Bee Anatomy

My favorite way to remember the basic anatomy of a honey bee is to count to six!

1. Proboscis

A honey bee has one proboscis! The proboscis is the tongue of the honey bee. It is shaped like a straw, and specialized to allow easy access to the center of a flower to collect nectar. A honey bee will use their tongue in two ways. One of the ways is like a straw. The other is with a lapping motion, like how a dog drinks water.

A worker bee using her proboscis to collect nectar from the center of a flower.

2. Antennae

You will find two antennae on top of a honey bee's head. A honey bee will use their antennae for data collection. This includes touch, taste, and smell. Honey bees have some of the most complex pheromone systems in the world. Pheromones are chemicals bees excrete that are used to communicate with other bees. These antennae allow the honey bee to smell the pheromones and act accordingly. Did you know? a honey bee has four muscles that are used to control antenna movement.

3. Segments of the Body

The head, thorax, and abdomen are the three segments of the body that make up a honey bee. The head is used for sensory input. The eyes, proboscis, and antennae are all located on the head of a honey bee. 

The thorax anchors the wings and the legs of a honey bee. The muscles found on the thorax allow the honey bee to rapidly move their wings.

The abdomen of a honey bee is where they digest their food, as well as store nectar during flight. Wax glands, where honey bees excrete flecks of beeswax, are located on the underside of the abdomen. For a worker bee and a queen, the end of the abdomen is where you can find a stinger. A queen bee's abdomen is much longer than a worker or drone's. 

A diagram showing the anatomy of a honeybee

4. Wings

A honey bee has two pairs of wings. These four wings are incredibly fast. A honey bee can beat their wings 230 times per second. These wings allow the bees to fly three miles away from their hive at up to 13 miles per hour.  A hive of bees will fly 40, 000 miles to collect enough nectar to produce a pound of honey.

A honey bee in flight.

5. Eyes

A honey bee has two large compound eyes on the side of their head and three smaller eyes known as ocelli on the very front of their head,  five eyes in total. The smaller three eyes on the front of the bee's head primarily allows them to perceive light. The large compound eyes on the side of their head allows them to see in all directions. Drone bees have especially large eyes so that they can find the queen during flight. Bees are attracted to yellow, purple, and blue the most. Honey bees have hair on their eyes.

Notice the three ocelli eyes that form the shape of a triangle in between the bee's antennae.

6. Legs

Honey bees have six legs. The front legs have hooks on them, specially designed to help the honey bee clean antennae, so that they can smell, hear, and see better. The hind legs have an incredible body part called a corbicula, also known as a pollen basket. The pollen basket has a dip in the leg, surrounded by a ring course hairs that allow the bee to pack pollen. The bee can hold a lot of pollen during flight, making it easier to bring back to the hive for food. 

Honey bee with a full pollen basket.