Chewing and bees are something that we never associate with each other, but bees actually do have teeth. In fact, bees can use their teeth to accomplish a wide variety of tasks, including injecting predators with a paralyzing agent and feeding larvae.
Do Bees Have Jaws?
Bees do not technically have jaws. Instead, they have mandibles. Mandibles are used to do a variety of tasks for bees. In fact, mandibles are used from the moment a bee is born, as they are crucial to ensuring that a bee can make its way out of its cell.
What Do Bee Mandibles Look Like?
Mandibles resemble very small pincers, but they are jagged and “teethed.” These teethed, pincer-like structures are located at the front of a bee’s face.
Do All Bees Have Toothed Mandibles?
All bees have mandibles or the two “jaws” located on the end of a bee’s face. On the end of these mandibles, a bee will have jagged “teeth.” All bees have this feature, but not all bees have the same type of toothed mandibles, as different bees have different tasks.
For instance, a queen bee’s mandibles are specially designed to cut through the thick layers of wax that formed the natal cell where she went from egg to queen.
Drone bees have smaller mandibles since they’re less accustomed to mandibular labour; so small, in fact, that they often need help emerging from their own natal cells.
How Do These Toothed Mandibles Work?
Toothed mandibles allow bees to do tasks that smooth mandibles would not be able to do. Bees can move these mandibles around; essentially how other creatures move around their jaws.
How Many Teeth Do Bees Have and Where Are They Located?
The number of teeth that bees have can vary from species to species. There isn’t a set number of teeth that all bees have across all species. Bees often have enough teeth to be able to do the jobs and tasks that require mandibles. For instance, stingless suicidal bees have five teeth on their mandibles that they use to latch onto threats with a painful bite. Since they lack a stinger, they compensate with their bite.
Another example is the female leafcutter bee, which has four teeth and uses its toothed mandibles for leaf-cutting to build its nest.
A bee’s teeth are located at the end of the mandibles. When looking at a bee, the mandibles will be the pincer-like formations emerging from the end of their head. On the end of these mandibles are jagged, rigid formations emerging from them. These are what are normally classified as teeth.
It is not a “tooth” that looks like the teeth of humans and other animals, but instead, it is a groove in the mandibles themselves.
Are Bee Teeth Different From Human Teeth?
Bee’s teeth are completely different from human teeth in both structure and function. Bee’s teeth are not made from material like ours; instead, they are simply extensions and shapings of the mandibles that are already in place. The mandibles of a bee are extensions of its exoskeleton.
While bees can use their teeth to chew just like humans do, they also use them for many other tasks. These include shaping and moulding materials, feeding larvae, and cutting material around the hive.
Are Bee Teeth Sharp?
Bee’s teeth are sharp; they have to be in order for bees to complete the tasks that require their teeth. If their teeth were not sharp, bees would not be able to cut themselves out of their cells when they are born. They would also not be able to assist other larvae in cutting themselves out of the cell.
It should also be noted, however, that worker bees have sharp mandibles yet weak “chewing” muscles; in other words, biting through tough objects, like flower petals or fruit skin, is not on their list of daily activities.
If the substance they’re trying to penetrate is weak or delicate, the worker bee has a greater chance of penetrating it with its mandibles, but it takes the long and arduous work of many worker bees to chew a single entrance open.
What Do Worker Bees Use Their Teeth For?
Worker bees use their teeth for a variety of different things. One of these major processes is chewing. Bees chew a variety of different things, including mud and wood, so these mandibles are very important in the day-to-day lives of bees.
To Feed Bee Larvae
This is a very important job and the mandibles are crucial to making sure it gets done correctly. Mandibles have a naturally forming spoon-like shape to them, so worker bees can easily transport food with them. Worker bees transport this food from their glands into these depressions in the mandibles.
To feed the larvae, the worker bee can insert its mandibles into the brood cell where the larvae reside, letting the food flow into it. Worker bees can do this to several different cells, and once they are out of food they will simply refill their mandibles and continue the process.
For Comb Building
The comb-building process begins when worker bees secrete a waxy substance from their glands. Once this wax hardens, the bees can use their mandibles to mould and shape this wax into whatever type of shape they may need. During this process, the bee will also add enzymes to the wax through its salivary glands.
After the wax has been shaped correctly, the bee can put it into the comb itself, using its mandibles to make sure it fits nice and tight. Without these mandibles, building a comb might be impossible.
For Marking Territory
Bees often mark their territory through the use of pheromones. These pheromones can mark territory for bees, ensuring that others will stay away.
To Fight Predators
The teeth are a major weapon used by bees to fight off predators. This is especially true in drone bees since they have no stinger. When using the teeth to fight predators, bees will often inject them with a paralyzing agent.
What Do Queen Bees Use Their Teeth For?
Queen bees use their mandibles in very different ways than other bees. Queen bees are able to use their mandibles to cut through her maturation cell, which is made of tough wax. Without her mandibles, the queen would never be able to escape this cell.
Once she has escaped her cell, the queen will then look for other queens that have not yet escaped their cells. Once she has found them, the queen will cut into their cells with her mandibles, killing them. This ensures that she is the only queen left.
What Do Drone Bees Use Their Teeth For?
One major function of teeth in drone bees is to sleep in flowers. To do this, a drone bee will first seek out a flower. It will then use its mandibles to grasp onto a part of the flower, essentially hanging onto it. It will then sleep, releasing its grasp when it awakes and leaves.
Male drone bees also do not have a stinger, so they often have to rely on their teeth as their only method of defence against predators and other threatening creatures.
Which Species of Bees Has the Biggest Teeth?
The biggest bee in the world is Wallace’s Giant Bee, so this species likely has the largest teeth among bees as well. This species of bee has a wingspan of more than 2.5 inches, so it dwarfs the common honeybee in size.
The Megachilidae family of bees are also known to have rather large mandibles and teeth. Bees in this family use their mandibles to collect materials in the wild, which they then use to build their nests. To gather these materials, these bees have to have big mandibles.
Can Bees Bite You?
While most people think that bees can only sting people and other creatures, they can bite as well, although it is not as common. Studies have shown that bees will often bite creatures that are too small for them to sting.
When a bee bites a creature, it injects it with a dose of 2-Heptanone. This agent can paralyze creatures that have been injected with it, but it is not strong enough to paralyze humans.