Day 11: Hind leg

The Twelve Days of Honey Bees, Day 11. A honey bee worker has eleven (or so) parts on each hind leg.

Finding an eleven in honey bees is a challenge, so I ended up with the many parts of a worker’s hind leg. If you have a better suggestion for this number, please let me know in the comments. Other options include the roughly 11 days a worker spends as egg and larva, and extending our prior day to simply say the male bees have 11 flagomeres on their antennae.

So here we are with the Arizona State University bee anatomy image again. Let’s enumerate the parts of the hind leg in the diagram.

The hind leg has the following parts.

  1. Coxa: the first or basal segment of the leg, which attaches to the thorax.
  2. Trochanter: the second segment of the leg, from the greek trokhos meaning “wheel”.
  3. Femur: the third segment of the leg.
  4. Tibia: the fourth segment of the leg. In many insects, including bees, it is covered in spines or hairs.
  5. Pollen basket: Also called the corbicula, this is used while a bee is harvesting pollen. The pollen basket is a distinctive feature of the Apinae family of bees, including honey bees, bumblebees, stingless bees, and orchid bees.
  6. Pollen Press: Two plates form the pollen press, and when a forager straightens her leg, she presses the pollen into the pollen basket. This creates a pollen pellet that the forager brings back to the hive.
  7. Pollen Brush: row of stiff hairs on the metatarsus that aids in collecting pollen.
  8. Auricle: row of hairs that helps move pollen into the pollen basket.
  9. Metatarsus: Also called the basitarsus, this is the fifth segment of the leg. This can also be considered as the first segment of the tarsus.
  10. Tarsus: In antiquity, insects had a single tarsus. Most modern insects, including bees, have tarsi (plural of tarsus) divided into multiple segments. A honey bee tarsus has five tarsomeres, or tarsal segments, with the largest the metatarsus or basitarsus.
  11. Tarsus Claw: The small claw at the end of each leg. When honey bees walk around, the leave a footprint pheromone in their wake. This is believed to originate from a tarsal segment in the leg.

For a more detailed discussion of the honey bee hind leg, see this UK Scientific Beekeeping site.

May you prosper and find honey.

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