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Bees are usually seen flying around the garden or in the wild, but you’ll also notice them walking around flowers, along walls and fences, and plenty of other places. If they can walk then that means they have legs but how many legs do bees have?
Bees are insects that have six legs. There are two legs in the front, two middle legs, and two hind legs. This is common among all bee species.
But what’s really interesting about bee legs is that they have far many more uses than just helping them to walk.
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Bees’ legs are made up of different parts; just like human legs. Many people pose the question, do bees have knees? The answer is simple, yes!
At the top of the leg is the coxa and following the coxa, there is the trochanter, the second section of the bee’s leg. Below this is another joint which leads to the femur, which is similar to what we would understand as a thigh.
Under the femur is a second joint which is what we might consider to be a knee and below this is the tibia or the lower leg. After the tibia come several smaller sections leading down to the bee’s foot.
Bees use their legs for a number of different things. You’ll notice that they have three pairs of legs; at the front, middle, and rear of their bodies and these pairs can be used independently of one another. That said, there are times when the bee will need to use all six legs together.
A good example is that a bee will groom itself using its front legs. If they were any further back, grooming the antenna would become pretty tricky. On the other end of the body, the hind legs are usually used for carrying pollen so that it isn’t in the way of the front legs. On the rear legs, many bees have pollen baskets which are cavities surrounded by hairs in which the bee can pack pollen and transport it back to the hive.
The middle legs are mainly used for walking but are also imperative in ensuring that the bee remains stable during flight.
Each set of legs is adapted to perform different tasks and is important in its own way. It’s therefore very easy to see why bees need to have six legs.
If a bee were to lose one of its middle legs then there is a relatively good chance that it may survive. However, if it were to lose one of its front or hind legs, it could be a different story as the bee would be disabled to a point that it would find it very difficult to survive.
Many people wonder what they can do to help when they find a bee with a broken or missing leg. The bad news is that there’s unlikely anything you can do to help the bee recover. On the bright side, it is possible for you to make the bee comfortable by dripping some sugar water close by so that it can feed should it want to.
As I mentioned earlier, bees don’t just use their legs for walking. Their primary method of transportation is flight although they do walk over smaller distances and within the hive. But it’s truly fascinating what bees use their legs for so let’s take a closer look.
I’ll start with walking since this is the most obvious function of a bee’s legs. While bees do use flight to transport themselves between flowers and back to the hive, they will walk around plants as well as walk around the hive when making comb. Plus, if bees did not have legs, they would not be able to stop and rest on various surfaces which is important since they can fly miles in a single outing.
One of the other most obvious things that bees use their legs for is flying. They’re important in keeping the bee stable during flight. The bee extends its legs down at the same time as pushing its body forward. Doing this creates a lift that stops the bee from tilting or tipping as it flies.
But it isn’t just keeping the bee in a straight trajectory that their legs are good for. They’re also important when the bee needs to perform a manoeuvre in the air. Moreover, the hind legs have great sturdiness which can prevent the bee from wavering in windy conditions.
Bees are one of the most important pollinators in the world and collecting pollen is something they do all the time. Not only do they use it to pollinate flowers but it’s also used in the hive to feed the young.
The pollen baskets on the legs of certain types of bees allow them to pack as much pollen as possible which the bee does by grooming itself and pushing the pollen into the baskets.
Bees use their legs and feet for their senses and there are several things at play here. Most commonly they use them for taste and hearing.
It might seem strange to a human that uses its tongue to taste that bees are able to taste with their feet! They are able to taste using their mouths but it’s a lot easier for the bee to simply land on a flower and taste it straight away.
Where their hearing is concerned, we have to keep in mind that bees lack ears. However, organs in their legs that are just below the knee allow them to sense vibrations which is equivalent to being able to hear.
Where humans have hands and opposable thumbs, bees do not but that doesn’t mean that they’re unable to grab hold of objects. They do this using their legs and can hold onto things like hive-building materials, surfaces on which they land, and wax within the hive.
Bees are prone to a lot of different pathogens and if they bring them back to the nest then the risk of disease to the entire colony is very high. So, it’s important that bees take good care of themselves and remain clean.
They do this by removing any pollen from themselves once they get back to the nest. They use their front legs to groom any pollen from their face or eyes and put this into their pollen baskets. During these grooming sessions, the bee will also use its front legs to clean the antenna ensuring that no germs or bacteria are left behind.
We’re all used to seeing bees buzzing about the backyard but upon closer inspection, these are truly amazing little creatures. Have you ever looked at one of our winged friends and wondered how many legs do bees have? The answer is six and they’re all designed for different functions. Without them, the bee would have a hard time surviving.