Day 7: Spiracles

The Twelve Days of Honey Bees, Day 7. A honey bee has seven pairs of spiracles on their abdomen.

Matching up these daily numbers is starting to get interesting. A spiracle is an opening in an insect or spider that enables the exchange of oxygen with the body. Honey bees have ten pairs of such openings: three on the thorax and seven on the abdomen. Yay for seven! The spiracles form part of the respiratory system in honey bees, as discussed in this post Do bees have lungs?

Young honey bees with their more open spiracles can be a vehicle for tracheal mites. Honey bees have evolved beyond this mite, for the most part, so you don’t hear of tracheal mite problems very often. I have never seen them in my bees, as far as I know.

When a bee falls in water, as in the image, they can use their wings as hydrofoils for a brief time. Eventually they tire, and with their spiracles on the side of the body they are unable to breath and quickly drown.

May you prosper and find honey.

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