The Anatomy of the Honeybee
If you’ve ever wondered about the anatomy of the honeybee, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, you’ll learn about the life cycle of the bee, its anatomy, and the processes involved in pollination and nectar processing. There’s also some interesting information about the pollination process, including how bees detect and select flowers. You’ll also learn about the different parts of the bee’s body, including its thorax, which features six legs and two pairs of wings.
While the human respiratory system has a single, central duct, honeybees have two sets of breathing tubes, called tracheas, which contain spiracles and air sacs. These tubes allow honeybees to breathe and transfer oxygen and carbon dioxide from their blood to other parts of their body. They also have ocelli, which help them navigate darkness and determine the position of their hive.
The wings and legs are located on the thorax, which is the middle section of the honeybee’s body. The thorax houses a heart, esophagus, and powerful flight muscles. The legs connected to each other are called fore wings and hind wings, and they have stiff hairs to collect pollen. The legs connect to pollen baskets on the head and the abdomen.
There are four stages in the life cycle of a honeybee: laying eggs, mating, larvae, and hive collapse. The queen bee is responsible for laying the eggs in individual honeycomb cells, storing more than five million sperm cells. She will lay eggs throughout her life after just one mating flight, and all fertilized eggs will become female worker bees while unfertilized ones will develop into male drones. The larva of a honeybee is tiny and white, and it is blind and lacks legs.
Bee eggs hatch three days after they are laid. Larvae grow rapidly and shed skin five times during the larval stage. During this time, they remain helpless, reliant on worker bees to feed them. Bee workers feed the larvae royal jelly and feed them with bee bread after three days. The larvae continue to feed on royal jelly during this time. Upon reaching maturity, they start feeding on honey and pollen.
The process of honeybee nectar processing begins when a bee regurgitates its nectar into a hexagonal wax cell. It then adds an enzyme known as invertase to the nectar, which breaks it down into simpler sugars, like glucose and fructose. The process takes several minutes, and each batch of nectar requires ripening nectar to become ready for processing.
While the honey bee’s digestive tract is primarily responsible for processing nectar, its role as a pollinator is complex and varied. It encounters many potentially toxic microorganisms and chemical compounds in the floral resources it collects. These bacteria and yeasts may interfere with the conversion of nectar into honey. In addition, some floral resources contain phytochemicals. As a result, the bee’s microbiome is often complex.
In Missouri, the honey bee plays an important role in crop pollination. Their contribution ranges from 5 to 30 percent of the total. While bumblebees have similar pollination abilities, they are more efficient and capable of flower visitation. Furthermore, they can forage in any climatic condition and have longer tongues. As a result, they are becoming increasingly popular for crop pollination.
Pollination by honeybees is essential for agricultural production, producing about 30% of the global food supply. Today, farmers rely on managed honeybees to provide pollination services. But as the number of bees declines, a plethora of problems exist. Humans are one of the major causes of pollinator decline, ranging from pesticide use to habitat loss. Pollinators are also threatened by pesticides, non-target exposure, and invasive species.
Honeybees are susceptible to several diseases. These are strongly influenced by environmental and seasonal factors. They may also be caused by parasites, fungi, bacteria, or viruses. The specific disease depends on the host and its function. Symptoms of each disease include a swollen abdomen, shiny comb, and loss of propolis. A weakened colony can be restored by requeening and adding worker bees.
American foulbrood is one of the most devastating diseases, and its spreading in colonies is a significant economic problem. A swarm of infected bees can rob a colony of its brood. The entire colony must be destroyed. Poisons are used to kill infected bees. To prevent infection, beekeepers must regularly clean plastic hives with three to five per cent sodium hydroxide.
Although there are many natural enemies of honey bees, some species are a major nuisance to beekeepers. In North America, the most significant of these is the yellow jacket. In Asia, the more damaging hornet is the Asian Hornet (Vespa velutina), which has been introduced to France and England. A common killer in Japan, the murder hornet has been found in Western United States hives, and has even killed humans.
Other enemies of honeybees include the small hive beetle, a microscopic parasite of honey bees. It lives and breeds in the hive’s tracheal tube and can seriously impact colony health. While small enough to be overlooked, this insect has migrated to more than 30 states, possibly brought by migratory beekeepers. Adult beetles are strong fliers and can cover miles in flight.