Mouth

Posted by Jeff Gabric on

Mouth

 The honey bees’ mouth is a complex conglomeration of components which for simplicity’s sake I have separated into two sections distinguished by function.  The outer section is a horizontally oriented, hinge-like set of interlocking jaws called mandibles.  Multifunctional and far nimbler than their appearance suggests, the mandibles are used to grasp, bite and tear, as well as groom and assist in guiding and stabilizing the relatively delicate proboscis. The mandibles are attached at each end of the labrum, a protective upper lip flap that shields the mouth parts when they are not in use.

 

The inner mouth section, working in concert, form and support the proboscis. When in use, the proboscis, composed of the glossa (a hairy tongue-like organ terminating in a spoon shaped structure called the labellum) surrounded by two galea and two labial palps (sheath-like, limber articulations) form an airtight seal. At the base of honey bees’ proboscis are sensory pits believed to sense taste. Honey bees seem to prefer sweet while eschewing salty and bitter flavors.  When not in use the proboscis folds neatly and is tucked into a groove beneath the head.

 

Fun Fact: Proportionally speaking, if your tongue where as long honey bees’ proboscis it would be about the length of your outstretched arm.

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