A honey bee is an insect - how can you tell?

honeybee on flower

Photo copyright BBKA Claire Waring.

ten things to do to help the honey bees (35 KB)

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A honey bee is an insect and has a body in three parts, a head, a thorax and an abdomen. It has three pairs of jointed legs, feelers or antennae, and usually two pairs of wings.

In addition it will have:-

  • a hard skeleton that is on the outside of its body (with holes for breathing)
  • a small size (0.02cm to 11.5cm in length) which allows it to reproduce to easily
  • it will hatch from an egg
  • it will undergo metamorphasis as it grows (the insect's body changes from an adult form through a major change in its body tissues).

Our honey bee has many extra special extras: 

  1. It has 5 eyes and can see ultra violet light.
  2. It can fly.
  3. It uses the sun and other landmarks to find its way.
  4. It can dance to show other bees where to find food.
  5. It has special 'baskets' made of stiff, curving hairs on its back legs, to carry pollen back to the hive.
  6. It has a sting (ouch!) to defend itself - but when it stings a human the bee dies!!
  7. It is a social insect - it lives in a colony with other honey bees.  Each bee works in co-operation with others, for the good of the colony as a whole.
  8. It feeds on flowers (nectar and pollen) and pollinates (fertilises) the flowers at the same time.
  9. It builds honeycomb nests and makes honey.
  10. It survives the winter by eating stored honey and keeping warm with the other bees.