Honey Bees

How many wings does a honey bee have?

And the answer: four.    

Photo credit: Tanner Smida

The honey bee has two sets of wings, totaling four in all. According to the British Beekeepers Association, the front and rear wings hook together to form one big pair of wings, and unhook for easy folding when not flying.

Credit: AskaBiologist.asu.edu.

Not only do honey bees have two sets of wings, but they also have six legs and five eyes! Each element of their anatomy is used to help them work in the hive, aid mobility, and even help out with producing future generations of bees. While their multiple sets of wings help them in flight and on the ground, their five eyes help them locate honey and watch for predators on all sides. Due to the hexagonal shape of their eyes, they can see all around them at all times. Further, honey bee eyes have evolved so that they can see UV light on flowers and plants, which helps them decide which to pollinate.

Meanwhile, a bee's six legs help it land on tricky plants and collect precious pollen. Many bee species have "brushes" and "combs" on the middle legs that are used for scraping pollen to the hind legs, on which there's a separate apparatus to collect the pollen. And yes, we know you were wondering: bees do, in fact, have knees.

Honey bees are specifically outfitted with other helpful evolutionary qualities. For one, they are covered in tiny hairs that help carry pollen and facilitate thermo-regulation. These tiny hairs also allow them to "hear" better, since bees do not have ears. The fine hairs on the bodies of bees allow them to sense vibrations from the atmosphere, which can help them with alarm responses.

Did you know?

Bees are smart workers! Not only are they evolutionarily equipped to thrive, but they also make the most of it. Their hexagonal honeycombs are the most efficient use of space possible: they hold the maximum amount of honey without wasting any space between hexagons.

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