Feel like a bee
Put your coffee & emails away and slip into your new super body!
There is this one question on your mind: How does a bee feel?
Nothing easier than that.
Put your coffee aside, close your emails & discover your new super powers!
Now you are a honey bee.
Together with 767 sisters, you are determined to visit 2 million flowers. Of course, that requires some super powers. But why would you do that?
How about half a kilo of honey and the well-being of your family of 10,000?
Look at you…
You’re about 700,000 times smaller than a human. Now you have six legs, five eyes and four wings.
You are extremely hairy. Your hair bristles, called “brushes”, cover your body and even your face.
In the mirror you admire your new eyes. Eye pairs were yesterday! Instead of two eyes you now have five! That sounds promising, you think.
Two of those eyes cover about half of your face and consist of countless tiny lenses. The other three eyes are much smaller and hardly visible. You look around: most things are black, blue, green and ultraviolet. However, on your first test flight you notice that all colours turn grey if you fly too fast. This confuses you a bit.
From two to five eyes
In return, you enjoy your new ability to immediately notice the movements of other living beings. It is incredibly difficult to trick you or surprise you from behind. Later you will learn that this is due to your barely visible three eyes. They are designed exclusively to detect changes in light. You can see your sisters from afar, no matter where they are. The only odd thing? The contours are a little blurry. Kind of like when you, as a human, looked through a stained-glass window.
You look down on yourself.
Each of your 6 legs is covered with brush-like hairs. Not very sexy, you think. Maybe you’re wondering what these brushes are for, too. And why on earth you have to juggle six legs instead of two? Soon enough you’ll find out why, because…
… the sweet smell of dandelion nectar tears you from your thoughts.
Suddenly you can’t think of anything else.
And yet it is not your nose that tells you where the dandelion is. Oddly enough, your front legs tell you that.
Like in a frenzy you throw yourself into the dandelion blossom. The nectar beguiles your senses and you greedily sip the sweet drink inside you. The pleasure reaches your brain in three ways, because hairs with certain receptor cells in the mouth, on the feelers and legs tell you whether what you have there is good or bad. In this case the stuff is simply irresistible.
You are so full of pleasure that you hardly notice that you have completely stained yourself with pollen balls. You take off.
Your four wings move at 11,400 beats per minute.
But before you can revel in triumph over this marvel of nature, you notice how the sticky yellow dust balls get stuck in all sorts of hairs on your body. Just like a human baby learning to eat, you think.
Your bee body is a mess.
Embarrassing. You’d need a wire brush to get through that, you think.
A wire brush?
Full of happiness you remember the brushes on your legs. Quickly, you start to clean the pollen from your face and neck with the front pair of legs.
Your sisters are warning you: Don’t shed it, it’s pollen and we need it for our descendants!
In a blink of an eye, you change your behaviour. The welfare of the community is your first priority. It is more important that the descendants of the colony have something to eat than that you can fly through the air more easily.
In any case, you will notice how a feeling of invincibility spreads within you after your nectar.
Yeah, you feel like you could easily fly to hundreds of flowers.
The truth is, that’s exactly what you are supposed to do.
Your middle pair of legs cleans the chest and takes the pollen from the front legs. Good to have so many legs at my disposal! The sense of these many little legs is now crystal clear.
Together with some liquid from your trunk you form practical balls and hang them on your back legs. In short, you would never shave these little hairs. Finally clean!
Nice pollen panties, shouts one of your older sisters. You wonder if she meant it. Because her pollen panties look 20 times as big.
The day is still long, you think, and rise up into the air full of zest for action.
A glance at the anatomy of a bee
The legs and hairs of a bee:
Bees indeed do have 6 legs with hairs on them. The bristle-like hairs on the inner side of the hind legs are arranged in ten regular transverse rows. The middle legs are pulled through between these pollen combs of the hind legs, so that the pollen gets caught in the bristle-like comb. A single, longer hair in the lower part of the capitulum holds the pollen that has accumulated. By further replenishment the honeybee forms its “panties” and knocks these with its middle legs firmly, so that with the flight nothing is lost. The weight of both panties is about 8 – 20 mg depending on the type of pollen. Before the panties are filled the bee flies to up to 80 different flowers. If you wonder why bees carry pollen around, read our article What is pollination?
The tongue of a bee has no taste buds and extends far beyond the end of your jaw. Bees taste with other specialized hairs that contain receptor cells. Each of these cells is calibrated to a specific substance. The hairs are located around your mouth, your antennae and at the ends of your legs. The front legs of a bee provide it with information about whether it is going to eat something or not.
The eyes of a bee:
Instead of two eyes, bees have five eyes. On the one hand they have compound eyes, also called compound eyes. Facet eyes are a composition of many small, hexagonal individual eyes, with which the bees can perceive up to over 300 images per second. For comparison, a human being can only see a fifth of them in one second. With the compound eyes the bees can see shapes, patterns and colours as if they were looking through a sieve. The individual impressions are then combined in the brain to form an overall picture of the environment. In addition, bees see colours differently. Red looks like black and the three “primary colours” are blue, green and ultraviolet. However, bees only see colours when they fly slowly enough. Above a certain speed they only see grey.
Bees also have three point eyes, also called ocells. They are immobile and centered on the head. Through them bees can distinguish light and dark.
How to feel like a bee? We hope that you can now put yourself in the place of a bee and would be happy if you have read up to here.
- Tautz, Jürgen: Der Bien. Superorganismus Honigbiene, June 2010
- Frost, Natasha: What is it like to be a bee? December 06, 2017