What Is the Structure of the Bee Antenna?

Bee antenna can assist in the removal of the corpses of their fallen brethren. Because they flee when they sense their demise or die while foraging, bees rarely perish in the hive.

Because of this, when necropsies don’t occur, necropsies must be carried at least 100 meters away from the hive to prevent the spread of deadly diseases. Want to know more about the bee antenna? let us now find out shall we!


Structure of the Bee Antenna?

Bee Antenna
The Bee’s Antenna

All bees have antennae with the same basic structure to collect information. There are four muscles at the base of the antenna which control its movement. From the bottom of the bee’s head extends the scape – joined to the pedicel with a joint that allows it to move in different directions.

Connected to the pedicel is the flagellum, the part of the antenna with all the receptors. Male bees have 11 subsegments on their flagellum, and females have 10. Not only do antennae vary based on a bee’s gender, but it also varies based on the type of bee: eusocial and solitary bees.


There are three primary parts to a bee antenna, with one connecting point (Antennal Socket):


Read also: Do Bees have lungs?


The Flagellum

When a bee has many flagomeres, it can indicate its gender by looking at the flagellum. Male bees have 11 sub-segments, but most species’ females only have 10 flagomeres.

In other bee species, such as the long-horned bee, male flagellum segments are longer than female flagellum segments. As a result, there’s an easy way to tell the sexes apart. The wonder of a bee’s sensory ability occurs at the flagella.


The Scape

Four muscles connect the scape to the skull through the antennal socket.

The distal part of the antenna, the scape, is attached to the flagellum by a second set of muscles (think about the way a human arm or leg functions). In addition to controlling movement, the scape acts as a conduit for nerves to go between the two antennas.


The Pedicel

As in humans, the pedicel and the scape are connected by a hinge-like junction. The flagellum is able to rotate more freely because to this joint. On the pedicel, there is also the Johnston’s organ. The pedicel and the flagellum’s base house this structure.

The Johnston’s organ is a highly specialized receptor that can pick up on even the smallest movements of the antenna, allowing the brain and flagellum to communicate clearly.


Read also: What is the Best Paint for Beehives?


The Antennal Socket

The antennal socket connects the antennae to the bee’s head even though it isn’t formally part of the antenna. Each of the antennas may move independently thanks to these bowel-like sockets (almost like a shoulder and socket).

The scape is attached to the bee’s head via four muscles that emerge from this socket. The bee’s antenna is completely controlled by these muscles. By way of the scape, the bee’s antennae are linked to its brain via a huge double nerve.


What Is the Bee Antenna Used For?

  • To Monitor Movement In the Hive:

As part of the hive’s surveillance, antennae are utilized to track movement and development. Worker bees are able to track the Queen’s pheromones in order to monitor her activities and sense danger (as mentioned above).

The quantity of foragers can be counted by the hive’s workers using a variety of pheromones. It is possible to slow the shift from nurse bees to foragers with a huge workforce.

  • To Locate Food Source:

Forager bees, on the other hand, have more chemo- and tactile receptors than males for precisely this reason.

Besides being able to view nectar guides, the antenna’s sensors can also feel the different textures on each blossom.

This aids the bee in determining both the type of bloom and the direction in which it will find food.

As a result of their particular sense of “smell,” bees are able to find food and avoid other hives.

Bee antennae serve as personal GPS devices for the insects. The bee is able to find its way to its goal by using each of its antennas on its own. Bees can pinpoint their location by following the strongest signal and continually altering their flight path.

  • Pheromone Communication

Drones are drawn to queen bees when they emit pheromones to entice them. When it comes to mating with a queen in mid-flight, male bees have longer antennae and more than 300,000 chemoreceptors, which is 100 times more than the females.

The queen bee produces a distinct pheromone back at the colony. Using this pheromone, the colony’s behavior is regulated. Outside of an animal’s body, pheromones operate as a hormonal cue to attract mates. For example, worker bees in the nursing stage detect pheromones telling them to switch to foragers if there aren’t enough foragers.

Additionally, the queen has the ability to emit pheromones that serve as alerts to danger. It is detrimental to the colony until a new queen is brought in to replace a queen that has gone missing or died. Workers will forage less and may even start making drones if the queen chemical is removed.


Read also: Bumblebee Eyes: Facts and Identification


  • Scent Receptors:

Bees use nectar sugar content and distance to find flowers. To manufacture honey, beekeepers seek nectar that is as sweet as possible. As sugar content increases, nectar’s nutritional value increases as well. However, how precisely do they ascertain the highest possible blood sugar levels?

Workers aren’t required to collect samples from every variety of bloom. Even in mid-flight, they may detect a hint of sweetness. In other words, their antennae sense sugar even when they’re in flight, thanks to their odor sensors.

Bees have two antennas because they can detect sugar. Though it would look unusual if there were only one bee, it isn’t merely for aesthetic reasons. Using their two flexible antennae, bees can detect honey flowing in at least two different directions, and they can use this information to fine-tune their flight path.



Using the bee antenna, bees are able to “see” each other in the dark and read their position. The Johnson’s organ allows bees to detect the “dancing” vibrations of other bees, which they can then follow.

The movement of food from one bee to another is facilitated in part by the antennae of each bee (trophallaxis). Bees utilize their antennae to notify when they are ready and align them correctly.

Bees in the hive may “feel” the presence of a predator by monitoring variations in carbon dioxide levels, thanks to their sensors. The colony is on high alert after detecting elevated CO2 levels in the hive as a result of an intruder’s breath.

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