Identifying Bees

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Bees usually have a body with three parts, and they are almost always covered in hair that's used for carrying pollen. Find out how to look for bees by their thick thoraxes with information from a biology teacher in this free video on insects.

Part of the Video Series: Wasp, Hornets, & Bees
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Video Transcript

I grew up in the mid-Atlantic states in Virginia. We had really cold wet kind of nasty Winters but one of the surest ways we would know that Spring had actually finally arrived was when we would hear the buzzing of the bees. They like that warm weather. They are not so crazy about the cold. There are lots and lots of insects out there. Scientists estimate almost 300,000 species. So how do you know which of those species are actually a bee? Well first of all let's talk a little bit about how you know something is an insect. One of the most distinguishing characteristics of insects is their body. Their body usually has three parts, a head, a thorax and an abdomen. Now the shape of these body parts and the length of these body parts can vary tremendously and that is actually one of the ways that you are able to identify what kind of insect you are actually looking at. Bees first of all tend to be covered in hair. Well why would that be? Well you may know about bees and flowers and their relationship. You see bees are important for carrying pollen from one flower to the next, that's how flowers get fertilized or pollinated as we call it. When a bee lands on a flower to drink the nectar, that is what bees feed on, the pollen is going to stick to their body and then they'll fly to another flower and some of that pollen will fall off as they are feeding on the next flower and that's how pollination and fertilization of the flowers actually occurs. Well in order for that pollen to stick to a bee the bee has got to be covered in hair. The feathers, the hair on a bee actually looks a little bit like a feather, it tends to branch out and creates that much more opportunity for pollen to stick to it. One of the other things that is true about bees is that if you look at the front of their thorax where it is near their head they kind of almost look like linebackers like they have got great big shoulder pads like they have this really thick collar like part that is on the front of their abdomen. So that is another way that you can tell you are probably looking at a bee. Now bees themselves exist in a lot of different species. They vary in shape and size, think about your bumblebees, big and round and furry as opposed to some of your digging bees which are a little bit leaner for getting under the ground. But the best way to tell what you are looking at to look at the body shape and then the coloring on the thorax and the abdomen. If you go to field guide to identify they're going to refer you to some of these body parts. I'm Janice Creneti and this is identifying bees.


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