September 16, 2019/Bee
  • By Nectar Foods

Good day friends, its nice meeting you again. I am sure you’ve been learning a lot about the bee. And once again I am Bee Royal. Let’s do a quick revision of our last lesson. In today’s post, we’ll be talking about the physical characteristics of Honey Bees.

For a while now we’ve been talking about the bee, we’ve seen who/what they are, their types and have moved focus to the honey bee and also realized that there are different types/species of the honey bee itself. Henceforth our focus will be on the honey bee. Today we are going to look into the characteristics or rather the body features of the honey bee.

Honey bees are insects and there are certain physical characteristics that all insects share. Most notably, insects have three body regions and six legs. The body regions are called the head, thorax, and abdomen. Each body region has an important role to play in the overall function of the honey bee. Correspondingly, the external structure of each body region is developed to support the given region’s function.

Here are the characteristics of Honey Bees:


The forward body region of the honey bees three sections that contain the compound eyes, simple eyes, antennae, mandibles, and proboscis. 

Antenna (e) The moveable, sensitive feelers on an insect’s head which detect odour and movement.
Ocellus The honey bee has three Simple eyes with a thick lens that can sense changes in the brightness of daylight.
Compound eye an eye made up of thousands of tiny lenses that allow a honey bee to see ultraviolet light, which is invisible to the human eye, as well as visible light. (Except red)
Mandible (jaw) Located on either side of the honey bee’s head, these jaw-like structures are used to chew honey and pollen and to knead wax.
Proboscis A straw-like structure used for sucking nectar or honey. it is another name for the tongue of a bee


The rear body region of a honey bee composed of nine segments and contains many organs including those for digestion, reproduction, and respiration.

Proboscis a straw-like structure used for sucking nectar or honey.
Cocoon The silk chamber a larva spins around itself just before the pupil stage of development.
Exoskeleton The hard outer covering which forms a bee’s body
Wax gland(s) Four pairs of glands are specialized parts of the body wall. During the wax forming period in the life of a worker, they become greatly thickened and takes on a granular structure. The wax is discharged as a liquid and hardens to small flakes or scales.
Pollen basket a smooth, somewhat concave surface of the outer hind leg that is fringed with long, curved hairs that hold the pollen in place.
Stinger found in a chamber at the end of the abdomen (in female honey bees only) and is used to defend against intruders.
Honey sac The stomach-like organ that is connected by a funnel-shaped valve to the digestive tract. Nectar stored here will be unloaded into empty hive cells or passed on to house bees for food.
Midgut/Ventriculus The stomach section in the abdomen which digests food.
Spiracle These tiny holes along the sides of a bee’s thorax and abdomen are how a bee breathes. The bee’s trachea (breathing tubes) are attached to these spiracles. It is through the first hole in the thorax that tracheal mites gain access to the trachea.


The middle section of the honey bees three sections that contain the flight muscles, the wings, and six legs.

Wings – The honey bee has two sets of flat, thin membranous wings, strengthened by various veins. The fore wings are larger than the hind wings. the wings of honey bee can carry the insect through the air at 15 miles per hour
Legs – a honey bee has three pairs of segmented legs. Each leg has six segments that make them quite flexible. The bees also have taste receptors on the tips of their legs. The bee uses its forward-most legs to clean its antennae.  The middle legs help with walking and are used to pack loads of pollen (and sometimes propolis) onto the pollen baskets that are part of the hind legs. (Propolis is the sticky resinous substance that the bees collect from the buds of trees and use to seal up cracks in the hive.) The hind legs are specialized in the worker bee. They contain special combs and a pollen press, which are used by the worker bee to brush, collect, pack, and carry pollen and propolis back to the hive.
Pollen basket The pollen basket is located the bee’s hind legs and consists of hairs surrounding a concave structure. As a bee visits a flower, she grooms herself and brushes pollen sticking to her body toward her hind legs. She then packs the pollen into the pollen basket. To help keep the pollen together during flight, some nectar is mixed in. Finally, the hairs on the pollen basket hold it all in place.
Honey Bee Characteristics
Honey Bee Characteristics

Did you know this about Honey Bees?

  • Bees have 5 eyes
  • They have been here around 30 million years
  • Honey Bees can fly at a speed of 20 miles per hour
  • Bees are insects, so they have 6 legs
  • An average beehive can hold around 50,000 bees
  • Male bees in the hive are called drones
  • Female bees in the hive (except the queen) are called worker bees
  • Losing its stinger will cause a bee to die
  • Bees carry pollen on their hind legs called a pollen basket or corbicula
  • Foragers must collect nectar from about 2 million flowers to make 1 pound of honey.
  • The average forager makes about a half a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.
  • Bees have 2 pairs of wings.
  • The main form of communication among honey bees is through chemicals called pheromones.
  • Is ‘honeybee’ one word or two?, Many people notice that dictionaries list ‘honeybee’ as one word.  However, entomologists use the two-word naming convention ‘honey bee’ both are correct!