Do bees have knees?

27.07.2017. 22:00

“Do bees have knees?” is one of those questions you don’t hear often. Usually when we think about bees what comes to our mind are honey, beehive, bee flight, beekeeper, etc. The last thing we would think about is do bees have knees. You might have even heard the phrase “the bee’s knees” meaning “the height of excellence,” popular in the U.S. That surely awakens your curiosity and makes you wonder if bees do have knees. If you have ever inspected a bee up close, you could see that their leg structure seems quite different from ours. You could notice that their legs are bent in more places than our legs, could that be knees? Several forums have tried to tackle that question, but there are always people claiming that bees do have knees, as well as people claiming that bees don’t have knees. We will show you some of the science behind the “knee issue” so you can decide for yourself if you agree with us.

Let’s get into it!

To be able to answer the question “Do bees have knees?” we will start from human anatomy. The best place to start would be the medical definition of a knee in humans, which is defined as the joint between the thigh (Femur) and the lower leg (Tibia) covered by a kneecap.

Bees have three pairs of legs (front, middle, and back) with a different set of tools on them. All three castes (the queen, worker, and drone) have the same structure of legs.

The leg of a bee is divided into six basic segments:

  1. Coxa

  2. Trochanter

  3. Femur

  4. Tibia

  5. Basitarsus

  6. Tarsi

Comparing the number of segments to a human leg tells us right from the start that bees have more complex leg structure. Moving that many segments just to walk might seem strange to us, how bees do it? Like any part of our body, their leg segments are also connected by joints, muscles, and tendon. Them working together is what enables a bee to use them effectively and easy, even though a leg has several segments. But can we consider those joints knees?

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Do bees have knees?

To be able to make a correlation of a human and bee leg we will take a closer look at a joint between femur and tibia. From that point of view, a bee indeed does have a knee. Looking further we can find a difference, unlike humans a bee doesn’t have a kneecap. Can that joint still be considered a knee?

We know that a human knee allows lower leg and foot to swing easily while walking, running, or kicking. Bee's knees have the similar function, allowing the movement of leg segments. Answering the question “do bees have knees” now depends on strictly following the definition of a human knee or just looking at the function of the joint. We will make a decision based on the function of a joint. Considering the similarities of how they operate in humans and bees, our answer would be YES, bees do have knees!

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