4th March 2020
What is a bee? Are bees insects and are they bugs or a type of fly or even wasp? Are bees animals and if so, are they mammals? Are bees invertebrates?
These are all valid questions. The short answers are as follows:
Q. Is a bee an animal?
A. Yes, bees are part of the Animal Kingdom along with other invertebrates and vertebrates.
Q. Are bees mammals?
A. No. Despite having hair, bees are cold-blooded invertebrates. Mammals are always warm-blooded vertebrates.
Q. Is a bee an insect?
Q. Is a bee a bug, fly or wasp?
A. No, although both bees and bugs are insects, bugs, true flies, wasps and bees share a number of different physical characteristics, although wasps are very closely related to bees.
Q. Are bees invertebrates?
A. Yes, bees have no internal backbone and so are invertebrates (members of the animal kingdom that have no backbone).
Read on for a more detailed explanation:
Yes, bees are animals in that bees, like all invertebrates, are part of the Animal Kingdom.
To explain further, all living things are classified into groups based on shared characteristics, which are then subdivided multiple times into even smaller groups based on even more features that they share in common.
In this way, living organisms from bacteria and fungi to plants and trees, insects, fish, birds, large and small animals are put into yet smaller clusters with individual species that are increasingly similar in the physical features they share.
The first (or top) layer of groups are called ‘kingdoms’ and all living things are further classified from these. As well as kingdoms for plants, bacteria and fungi, we have the Animal Kingdom, which includes vertebrates and invertebrates.
bees have hairs on their bodies as mammals do, and are part of the animal kingdom, bees are
Mammals are warm-blooded vertebrates with mammary glands for feeding milk to their young.
Bees are cold-blooded invertebrates and provision their larvae with food - usually a combination of nectar and pollen.
Yes a bee is an insect.
An insect is an invertebrate (animal without an internal backbone), and insects have:
A bee has all of these features, and is an insect. You can contrast this with say, a spider, which is not an insect but an arachnid, having 8 legs (4 pairs), no antennae, and 2 body parts (a head and thorax which are merged into one body part, and the abdomen).
Although a bee is an insect, it is not a bug. Bugs are types of insects, that have piercing mouth parts for sucking juices either from other insects, animals or plants. Bugs belong to the insect order Hemiptera, whereas bees belong to the insect order Hymenoptera. Bees share this insect classification with wasps, ants, hornets and sawflies.
It's worth noting that whilst all bugs are insects, not all insects
No, although bees and flies are insects, flies belong to the insect order Diptera.
Flies have 1 pair of wings (bees have 2). Their mouth parts are for piercing or sucking. As explained above, bees belong in the insect order Hymenoptera.
Above is a photograph of a conopid fly which is a parasite of bees. In flies, the eyes are typically at the front of the head and are forward-facing. It has one pair of wings and short antennae.
Some flies look a little like bees, as is the case of the bee fly. Learn more about the bee fly.
Bees, true bugs and true flies are all insects, but separate at the classification level of 'Insect Order' - see below:
Bees and wasps are closely related, and even belong to the same insect order (Hymenoptera) and sub-order - (Apocrita), however, they are classified differently at the next level of classification, which is Superfamily:
Yes, bees are invertebrates. An invertebrate is an animal without an internal backbone (spinal column). Bees have no backbone, only an exoskeleton, which is a thin, shell-like outer skeleton.
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