Antennae: the long, thin structures on the head of some animals that are used to sense surroundings.

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Thorax: in general the part of the body between the neck and waist in humans and the central part of an insects body where the legs and wings are attached...more

Bee Anatomy

Honey bees are insects and have five characteristics that are common to most insects.

They have a hard outer shell called an exoskeleton.They have three main body parts: head, thorax, abdomen.They have a pair of antennae that are attached to their head.They have three pairs of legs used for walking.They have two pairs of wings.

You can use the illustrations below to explore the anatomy of the honey bee both what you can see from the outside and also the parts of the honey bee located inside.


Labeled illustration of the exterior anatomy of a honey bee. Click to enlarge.

Looking at the Outside of a Honey Bee

HeadLocation of the eyes, brain, where the antennae attach.
MandiblesStrong outer mouthparts that help protect the proboscis.
Proboscis(Not shown) Tube-like mouth part used to suck up fluids.
OcelliOne of two types of insect eyes used to detect motion.
Eye (Compound)The second type of eyes made of many light detectors called ommatidia.
AntennaMovable segmented feelers that detect airborne scents and currents.
ThoraxMidsection where the (6) legs and wings attach.
AbdomenHind part of the bee and where the stinger is located.
StingerOr sting, is a sharp organ at the end of the bee"s abdomen used to inject venom.
ForewingsWings closest to the head.
Hind WingsWings farthest from the head.
ForelegsLegs closest to the head.
Antennae CleanersNotches filled with stiff hairs that help bees clean their antennae. There is one on each foreleg.
Middle LegsLeg located between the foreleg and hind leg.
Hind LegsLegs farthest from the head. In workers, these legs have a unique set of tools used to collect and carry pollen called the press, brush, and auricle.
CoxaFirst segment of an insect leg.
TrochanterSecond segment of an insect leg.
FemurThird segment of an insect leg.
TibiaFourth segment of an insect leg; the tibia of the hind leg holds the pollen basket, where pollen is carried.
MetatarsusFifth segment of an insect leg; the metatarsus of the hind leg holds special pollen collecting tools.
TarsusThe last segment of the leg and what touches the walking surface.
Tarsus ClawClaw found on the last segment of the leg.


Labeled illustration of the exterior anatomy of the head of a honey bee. Click to enlarge.

Compound EyeA type of eyes of insect eye that is made of many light detectors called ommatidia.
OcellusA type of insect eye used to detect motion. (Plural: ocelli)
AntennaA movable segmented feeler that detects airborne scents and currents.
LabrumMouthpart that can help handle food and that forms the top of the feeding tube.
MandibleStrong outer mouthpart that helps protect the proboscis.
MaxillaMouthpart beneath the mandible that can handle food items.
Labial PalpMouthpart used to feel and taste during feeding.
ProboscisTube-like mouth part used to suck up fluids.
GlossaAn insect"s hairy tongue that can stick to nectar to pull it in toward the mouth.


Looking Inside a Honey Bee

1-ProboscisStraw-like mouthparts of a bee used to drink fluids.
2-MaxillaeThe outer sheath of the proboscis which surrounds the labium.
3-MandibleA pair of jaws used to chew pollen and work wax for comb building. They also help with anything that the bee needs to manipulate.
4-LabrumA movable flap on the head that covers the opening of the food canal and proboscis
5-Food CanalLike our mouths, this is the opening by which the bee will take in food. Bees" food is almost always liquid in the form of nectar or honey.
6-PharynxMuscles used to move the labium and suck up nectar from flowers.
7-EsophagusThe hollow tube through which ingested fluids pass to the honey stomach and later the midgut.
8-Hypopharyngeal glandGland that produces some of the compounds necessary for making royal jelly, used to feed the larvae.
9-BrainHoney bees have excellent learning and memory processing abilities. Their brain processes information used in navigation and communication as well as memory. The brain also controls many of the basic bee body functions.
10-Salivary GlandThe salivary glands have a number of functions. Like the hypopharyngeal gland, the salivary glands produce some compounds necessary for producing royal jelly. The salivary glands produce liquid used to dissolve sugar, and also produce compounds used to clean the body and contribute to the colony’s chemical identity.
11-Flight MusclesThe thorax muscles, which power the bee’s wings for flying and movement. These muscles work very hard and can help the bee to beat its wings up to 230 times per second.
12-HeartUnlike in mammals, honey bees and insects have an open circulatory system, meaning their blood is not contained within tubes like veins or arteries. The blood, or hemolymph, in insects is free-flowing throughout the body cavity and is pumped via the heart. The heart is the structure in red, and acts like a pumping leaky tube to help move the hemolymph throughout the body
13-Opening of SpiracleThe respiratory system in insects is a series of hollow tubes connected to air sacs in the body. The openings of these hollow tubes are called spiracles. The tubes are called trachea which then provide oxygen and gas exchange to all tissues in the body.
14-Air sacAir filled sacs used as reservoirs of air in the insect body.
15-MidgutContains the proventriculus, ventriculus, and small intestine. This is where most of the digestion and nutrient absorption occurs in the insect body
16-Heart OpeningsOpenings in the heart tube which take in and pump out hemolymph.
17-IleumA short tube connecting the midgut to the hindgut. The Ileum also often houses microbes, which aid in digestion.
18-Malpighian TubulesA set of small tubes that are used to absorb water, waste, and salts and other solutes from body fluid, and remove them from the body.
19-RectumThe rectum acts like our large intestine and is the bees primary location of water absorption for the gut after digestion and nutrient absorption.
20-AnusThe exit of the digestive system, used to excrete food waste (poop) while in flight.
21-StingerAlso called "sting" is used to puncture the skin and pump venom into the wound. In worker bees the stinger has a barbed end. Once pushed into the skin the stinger remains in the victim. The venom sac will remain with the stinger. If left in the body the stinger will continue to pump venom from the venom sac into the victim. Queen bees have a longer and un-barbed stinger. Drones (males) do not have a stinger.
22-Stinger SheathThe hardened tube, from which the stinger can slide in and out.
23-Sting CanalThe sting is hollow, allowing venom to pass through the stinger. This is also the canal via which an egg is passed, when the queen lays an egg.
24-Venom SackHolds the venom produced by the venom gland, and can then contract to pump venom through the stinger.
25-Venom GlandThe gland which produces the venom that damages tissue if injected into the body.
26-Wax GlandsWorker bees start to secrete wax about 12 days after emerging. About six days later the gland degenerates and that bee will no longer produce wax. The queen is continually laying eggs to maintain colony size and to produce more new workers that produce wax.
27-Ventral Nerve CordLike the nerve cord in our spine, which holds bundles of nerve fibers that sends signals from our brain to the rest of our body.
28-ProventriculusA constricted portion of the honey bee foregut or honey stomach, which can control the flow of nectar and solids. This allows honey bees to store nectar in the honey stomach without being digested.

Honey Stomach (Foregut/Crop)

A storage sac, used in honey bees to carry nectar. The honey stomach is hardened to prevent fluids from entering the body at this location.
30-AortaBlood vessel located in the back of a bee that carries blood from the heart to the organs.
31-EsophagusPart of the bee digestive system that begins below the mouth and connects to the honey stomach.
32-Ventral Nerve CordSame as 27. This is a large bundle of nerves from the brain that sends signals to the rest of the bee"s body.

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33-LabiumIn bees a tongue-like appendage used to help drink up nectar. Like our tongue bees can taste with this organ. The labium fits inside of the maxilla (2), kind of like a straw.