Nature, leaving nothing to chance, has created the bee as an insect entirely adapted to the various roles it has to play within the hive.
The compound eyes made of 4.000 to 6.000 hexagonal facets endow bees with a high image fusion speed, thus making motion detection easier. Coupled with a very wide field of view, almost 360°, they allow bees to find their way precisely and to quickly escape potential predators.
The 2 antennae continuously move thanks to about fifteen different joints and are the main organs allowing bees to perceive their environment. They carry between 3.000 and 30.000 sensillae of at least 7 types : basoconic sensillae for example, that are hair-shaped and have holes in their walls to let odorous molecules reach the sensillary liquid. Bees are very sensitive to odors, and are able to spot remote nectar sources and communicate together thanks to ‘odorous’ secretions. Their antennae also help bees analyze their physical environment, the carbon dioxide content, humidity – they contribute to taste identification, and deliver information as to their flight speed.
The mouth is made of two powerful mandibles used to cut, pinch, rub and make up wax scales, knead propolis, and build up cell walls…Bees have a proboscis with a tongue they can stick in and out to reach the base of the flower corolla.
The six legs are very sophisticated working tools as well : the fore legs bear small adhesive disks used to collect pollen, stick to any surface, and clean the antennae. The hind legs, hairy and spoon-shaped, are equipped with pollen bags where bees store their treasure, and with hooks allowing them to hang to each other to create a wax chain. The abdomen contains the crop, a sort of tank where bees store nectar, honey, honeydew and water they are later able to regurgitate according to their needs..
The two pairs of membranous wings have low air resistance, and allow bees to fly forward, backwards and sideways. These are powerful fans that can produce particular sounds used for communication.
Like wasps, bees have a stinger, but sting only once, when being attacked or in case of emergency, to defend the hive and stocks : once the dart is torn out bees lose part of their abdomen and die quickly.
Highly developed senses
— Smell: thanks to multipurpose antennae.
— Sight: covering 360° thanks to 2 eyes with 4.000 to 6.000 facets each and a corneal lens, a crystalline cone and optic nerve.
— Touch: thanks to sensory receptors on the entire body, especially on the antennae.
— Taste: thanks to the hind legs that are sensitive to sweet solutions, to the antennae and mouth.
Hearing: thanks to the vibrations felt by the hind legs, and to the antennae.