Day 6: Legs

Welcome to the Twelve Days of Honey Bees, Day 6. A honey bee has six legs.

All insects, in fact, have six legs, often with one or more specializations. Most bees have a number of specializations on their legs, and this includes honey bees. An insect’s legs attach to the thorax and are normally composed of five main segments: the coxa, trochanter, femur, tibia, and tarsus. Honey bees have evolved a metatarsus in addition to the segments of the tarsus.

A honey bee’s foreleg has an antennae cleaner between the tarsus and the tibia. Honey bees use this to groom their antennae, especially to clean off pollen. As the antennae is a primary sense organ, it is important it remain clean.

Each leg also has a small claw at the end to help the bee grip the sides or top of objects. The middle leg does not have a lot of specialization other than this claw.

The back leg, or hind leg, is much more specialized and we will save this for another day.

The picture of a worker bee here is one of my workers on a frame on June 12, 2022. It gives a view of the areas of bee anatomy we have highlighted thus far: the pointed end with a stinger; the two antennae; the three body parts or the head, thorax, and abdomen; the four wings, the five eyes, and of course the six legs.

The three legs shown on the left side of the bee in this photo illustrate most of the leg segments we just mentioned: the tarsus, metatarsus, tibia, femur. and trochanter are especially visible.

It was awfully nice of this worker to pose for us in anticipation of this series. Bees are so helpful.

The below image from Arizona State University shows a rather detailed view of honey bee worker anatomy, including the parts we have discussed in this series and some we have yet to mention. The picture and related article is part of the University’s ask a biologist series, and provides a wealth of biology information for honey bees and other animals.

May you prosper and find honey.

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