| | |

Do Bees Have Knees? Get The Quick Facts

A photo of a honeybee bending its knees while collecting pollen.

For such a small insect, bees are super-smart and have some anatomical similarities to humans. A common question people want to know is do bees have knees? Let’s take a close look and find out!

Do bees have knees?

Like humans, bees have knees that separate their tibia and femur bones in each leg. They have six knees in total which don’t have a patella or kneecap. Each knee joint has a similar position on the leg, structure, and functionality to ours.

A closeup photo of a bee showing its femur, tibia, and knee.
Closeup of a bee showing its knee joint.

What are bee knees used for?   

Bees find themselves in some tight situations in the beehive and when crawling into flowers. Like other insects, bees have tendons and muscles that connect each of their leg segments. Specifically, their knees allow them to bend their legs into smaller spaces.

The knees aren’t just useful for movement. A honey bee will collect pollen by raking herself with combs on the hind legs. The pollen is then transferred to a pollen press which is a section located on their knees. 

Bee knees make the job easier when it comes to honeycomb construction, antennae cleaning, removing pests and intruders from the hive.

What does the phrase “bee’s knees” mean?

“The Bee’s Knees” became an informal expression that means something is excellent or outstanding. For example, you might say “the new restaurant on the corner is the bee’s knees, I absolutely love their desserts”.

Although there are differing opinions, many people believe the phrase originated in the 1700s. It originally meant something “insignificant or small”. However, the phrase’s meaning changed in the 1920s to become the catchy rhyming wordplay that it is today. During this time another popular phrase was coined, the cat’s pajamas, which has the same meaning. 

Do bees have ankles?

The joint between the bee’s tarsus and tibia is considered its ankle. It provides the bee with flexibility when landing and walking on surfaces. In addition to the ankle, a bee has tarsomeres, basitarsus, and pretarsus bones which make up the foot.

Did you know? Ground-nesting bees use their knees to brace themselves against the side of a tunnel when digging.

The parts of a bee’s leg

Bee legs are much more complex than a human’s. They are an important part of their anatomy, used for a variety of daily tasks. To be of use, they require a wide range of motion. Honey bee legs have six parts:

  • Trochanter
  • Coxa
  • Tibia
  • Femur
  • Tarsi
  • Basitarsus

Want to learn more about the makeup of a bee? Check out our guide to the anatomy of a honey bee or learn about the fascinating bee antennae here.

Commonly asked questions

What is a bee’s knee called?

The knee of a bee is called the femoro-tibial joint, which has a similar range of movement to a human’s. It is the largest connector, providing the lower leg and foot with an increased range of movement.

How many knees do bees have per leg?

Bees have six knees which are all located between the tibia and femur bones.

Can bees fart?

Although honey bees fart, they are virtually undetectable due to the amount of gas released. Honey bees digest pollen that passes through the honey stomach and then mid-guts. During this process, gas is excreted from the bee.

Can a bee urinate?

Bees do not urinate or release liquid waste; instead, they excrete uric acid and ammonia from their Malpighian tubules.

Summing up

The bee is an incredible creature with equipment like antennae that allow them to do things we humans struggle to comprehend. Although a bee’s knees aren’t as exciting as some parts of its body, they still serve a range of important uses.    

Similar Posts