Apis mellifera – has a very characteristic morphology and very distinct from the other solitary insects and bees and with marked differences between the three types: Queen, Obreiras and drones. Although part of the insect class has a specialized way of life, possessing particular mechanisms and structures. The domestic bee – Apis mellifera – is a fabulous insect and a true production machine. She is an indefatigable worker in permanent struggle against time, visiting millions of flowers to harvest a small amount of nectar for her colony. Apis mellifera has an organized activity, does not waste time and since it has a body that is appropriate to the functions it performs, it seeks to extract maximum productivity from this factor. It is today one of the insects most studied and cherished by man in the various aspects resulting from its activity: honey production, pollination and study of the environment.
Morphological aspects of Apis Mellifera bees
Bees, like other insects, have an external skeleton called the exoskeleton. Consisting of chitin, the exoskeleton provides protection for the internal organs and support for the muscles, in addition to protecting the insect against the loss of water.
The body of the bee is divided into three parts: head, thorax and abdomen;
In the head of the bees there are two large faceted eyes and three small simple eyes, the mouth comprises a movable lower lip, a pair of jaws that serve to harvest the pollen and chew the wax, and a complicated tube formed by the tongue, the lip inferior and by the two jaws, with which they suck the water and the nectars of the flowers.
The thorax of the working bees has three pairs of legs, the two hind legs having a spoon or pit dug into the tibia, where the bees accumulate pollen and propolis; in the femurs of all paws are seen tufts of hair or brushes, which serve to collect the pollen, and also on the tibias other tufts of hair that serve for the bees to clean the eyes and the antennae when these are contaminated with pollen. Two pairs of wings are held in the chest.
The abdomen is formed by six rings, little mobile and in the central face are four pairs of glands that secrete the wax. The digestive tract of the bees is formed by the esophagus, which continues the trunk by the chatter, where the honey accumulates until the bee throws it in the bottom of the comb, the stomach and the intestine. As attached organs this apparatus has several salivary glands, of which the first pair produces a saliva which, mixed with honey and pollen, serves to make a broth or potato with which the larvae are fed; a second pair, whose saliva is used to macerate the wax, and a third pair, whose secretion the bee mixes with the honey together with a drop of formic acid, so that it is better kept in the combs.
Apis Mellifera. The head, thorax and abdomen are clearly distinguishable.
Aspects of the external morphology of the bee Apis Mellifera
All muscles are skeletal striated, even those involving the digestive tract and the heart. The muscles that adhere to the walls of the body move the various parts, including the appendages. To move the appendages there are antagonistic pairs of muscles. Some parts have only flexor muscle. The extent of these structures are made by movements of the hemolymph (which generates pressure) together with the elasticity of the cuticle. Bees are probably a monophyletic group originated from spherical wasps. A group that emerged as having a new adaptive situation: pollen from angiosperms to serve as protein food for the larvae. Bees are entirely dependent on flowers for food, and may not have originated before the emergence of angiosperms, predominant in the middle Cretaceous (120 million years ago). Most angiosperms of this time were probably pollinated by beetles. The known bees fossils, dating from the Eocene (40 million years ago) indicate that by this time, bees were already specialized and most of the bee groups known today already existed.
Internal anatomy of the bee Apis Mellifera
The simple eyes or ocelli are smaller structures, in number of three, located in the frontal region of the head forming a triangle. They do not form images. They have the function of detecting the luminous intensity. The antennas, two in number, are located on the medial front of the head. In the antennas are structures for smell, touch and hearing. The olfaction is carried out through the olfactory cavities, which exist in a much greater number in the drones, when compared with the workers and queens. This is due to the need that the drones have to perceive the smell of the queen during the nuptial flight.
The presence of sensory hairs on the head serves for the perception of air currents and protects against dust and water. The oral cavity consists of two jaws and the tongue or gloss. Jaws are strong structures, used to cut and manipulate wax, propolis and pollen. They also serve to feed the larvae, clean the combs, remove dead bees from the interior of the hive and in the defense. The tongue is a very flexible piece, covered with hairs, used in the collection and transfer of food, in the dehydration of the nectar and in the evaporation of the water when it becomes necessary to control the temperature of the hive.