Why Do Bees Have Sticky Hair?

closeup of bees eye with small sticky hairs
Bees' bodies are covered in thick, sticky hair including their tongue and eyes

Honey bees have nearly three million hairs on their bodies that help them accomplish a variety of different tasks. This stickiness is vital to many operations, including collecting pollen, eating, and even sensing temperature.

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    Why Do Bees Need Hair?

    Honeybees primarily need hair to collect pollen, which sticks to the individual hairs on a bee’s body when it goes foraging, as well as to brush it off.

    Hair located on the bee’s body has other functions besides collecting pollen. For example, it regulates body temperature and detects vibrations that inform the bee of movement and other surrounding events.

    Bee hair acts to help bees understand and detect wind current and flow. This comes in handy when bees fly around searching for pollen, as it can alert them to nearby flowers.

    It can also detect chemical cues around them. This ensures that they will not accidentally wander into other bees’ territory. Bees mark their territory with pheromones so that these hairs can pick up these chemical signals.

    Bee hair works to pick up vibrations in the air around them, helping them to detect any incoming danger. It also helps sense touch, so they can be aware of what they are touching as they search for pollen.

    Bee hair also helps to keep them warm when it gets cold outside. Bees can huddle up together in their hive, and all of these hairy bodies together help keep the bees warm.

    However, not all bees can rely only on their hair to keep themselves warm, as many bees do not have hair that is thick enough to provide protection. For example, honey bees are not able to rely solely on their hair to stay warm.

    why do bees have sticky hair head
    Honey bees have almost three million tiny hairs on their bodies

    Why Do Bees Have Hairy Tongues?

    While it may seem like an odd location for hair, hairy tongues are extremely important for bees and their survival.

    When bees are feeding on nectar, they release their tongue straight into it in order to collect it. Bees use the hair to form a straw or tube-like structure with their tongue, allowing them to suck up the nectar they need easily. 

    Fun Fact:

    The bee’s body, including its legs and even its eyes and tongue, is covered in hair. Bees leave some pollen grains behind as they jump from flower to flower, creating insect pollination essential to local ecosystems.

    Is Bee Hair Thick?

    Bee hair is very thick, which is essential when it comes to keeping a bee warm in the winter. Bees can huddle up together in the cold months to keep each other warm. However, having thick hair also helps to keep individual bees warm when they are by themselves.

    Why Is Bee Hair Branched?

    Branched hair on bees makes it possible to collect pollen as they fly from flower to flower. As a bee lands on a flower, these branched hairs will pick up any pollen they come in contact with. While bees have other methods of collecting pollen, branched hairs are one of the main ways to do so.

    When bees fly, they build up a minor electrostatic charge. This charge helps to attract pollen onto bee hair that does not come in direct contact but is still close to the hair. The minor charge lets the pollen “jump” from the flower onto the branched hairs.

    why do bees have sticky hair bumblebee
    Bumblebees are covered in thick hair that allows them to go out and forage for food during the cold winter months

    What’s the Difference Between Bumblebee Hair and Honey Bee Hair?

    Bumblebees’ hair is thicker compared to honey bees. This has many advantages, including that this allows bumblebees to go out and forage for pollen when it is too cold for honey bees to do so. This makes bumblebees extremely important in cold climates where honey bees cannot survive.

    The sticky hair on bees carries many functions vital for bees, their feeding, and their survival.

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