Cuticle

Posted by Jeff Gabric on

Cuticle

 Your skeleton is on the inside, like framing. Honey bees’ exoskeleton, called the cuticle, is on the outside, like super-strong siding. The cuticle is made of chitin, a durable, waterproof substance and is composed of plates (tergites on top, sternites underneath).  These plates are connected by flexible membranes that stretch and contract as the bee moves.  The cuticle’s surface varies from smooth to scale-like depending on location, provides protection from environmental elements, houses the tender internal organs, anchors the bee’s hairs (which serve as a frontline collection site for pollen) and is the frame to which muscles are tethered. Honey bees molt six times in the larval and pupal stages of development as they increase in size. Once an adult bee emerges from its capped cell it retains the cuticle with which it was ‘born’ for the rest of its life.

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