Images and Contributor Author Gary Taylor ◦
The one, two, three of the bee antenna
In zoology, the word antenna (plural antennae) describes either of a pair of long, thin sensory appendages on the head of a bee , other insects, crustaceans and some arthropods.
The word antenna is derived from the Latin antemna (a feminine noun for yard of a ship; yardarm). The antemna on a Roman sailing ship, was a type of horizontal mast-mounted spar designed to spread square-rigged sails.
In bees (and other insects) there are three segments to the antenna. These are described as
- the scape (at the base of the antenna),
- the pedicel (in the middle), and
- the flagellum (at the end)
The female bees ae described as having 12 antennal segments (including the scape and pedicel), whereas the male bees have 13 antennal segments.
Source: Antenna drawings based on photos by C. Ritner. Exotic Bee ID. USDA APHIS Identification Technology Program (ITP) and Utah State University. Fort Collins, CO., 7 May 2022, http://idtools.org/id/bees/exotic
When observing a bee, you can see how their antennae are constantly on the move. With the ability to move individually, the antenna contain receptors for touch, smell and taste. This enables the bee to detect temperature and humidity.
The photographs of the bee species on this page courtesy of Gary Taylor.
Footnote & References
- Antenna drawings based on photos by C. Ritner. Exotic Bee ID. USDA APHIS Identification Technology Program (ITP) and Utah State University. Fort Collins, CO., 7 May 2022, http://idtools.org/id/bees/exotic
- Selection of bees, photographs © Gary Taylor, Western Australia
- Segments in the insect antenna—counting one, two, three!, by Mattingly, Beargrass Press, https://www.beargrasspress.com/segments-insect-antenna-counting-one-two-three/
- A quick-start guide to honey bee antennae, American Bee Journal, https://americanbeejournal.com/quick-start-guide-honey-bee-antennae/
- About Bees, Bee morphology, Exotic Bee ID, https://idtools.org/id/bees/exotic/bees_morph.php
- Honey bee anatomy, by Zachary Huang, 20 Feb 2021, Bee The Best!, https://bees.msu.edu/honey-bee-anatomy/
BeesAmegilla Bee Austroplebeia australis Bees Anatomy Bee Behaviour Ceylalictus perditellus Colletidae European Honey Bee Euryglossinae Homalictus Hyleoides bivulnerata Lipotriches Megachile Meroglossa Stenotritidae Thyreus Xylocopa aerata