Science Questions

Do Bees have knees?

Sun, 1st Jun 2008

Listen Now    Download as mp3 from the show Naked Science Question and Answer show


Penny asked:

We’ve all heard the expression “the bee’s knees.” What I’d really like to know is, do bees really have knees?


This is a really good question and in fact they do.  Bees do have segmented legs, consisting of parts called a coax, a trochanter, a femur, a tibia and a tarsus.  The jointw between which must be considered to be 'knees'.

There’s been some discussion on the Naked Scientists’ forum about this and Turnipsock suggests that perhaps the expression "The Bee's Knees" comes from the fact that they store pollen in these hairy baskets on their knees.  They have hairs on their knees which are used to collect a big build-up of pollen.  So, this could look like something very big and spectacular, hence the expression.


Subscribe Free

Related Content


Make a comment

Penny Wood asked the Naked Scientists: We've all heard the saying, but do bees really have knees? What do you think? Penny Wood, Fri, 30th May 2008

In a sense, they do. I'm pretty sure they don't have knee caps or any such similar structures, but their legs are jointed. Supercryptid, Fri, 30th May 2008

Bees seem to have more knees than you can shake a stick at.

The front legs are mainly concerned with cleaning the antenna. There is a semi circular notch in the leg for this purpose.

The rear legs are where all the action is.

The bee can clear all the pollen stuck to it and then 'press' it and then store it in a big ball stuck to its rear legs.

The term could come from the flexability and dexterity involved in the legs in order to do this. Or, it could come from a misconception that the collected pollen looks like prominent knees (c.f. The Cats Wiskers, The Dog B*****)

turnipsock, Fri, 30th May 2008

Or is it a corruption of "the business"? lyner, Fri, 30th May 2008

This bee certainly looks pleased with itself ...
RD, Sat, 31st May 2008

Well, this bee seems happy about something

No, it's not faked. It was photographed in a garden in Newquay, Cornwall, UK. It was on TV the other day. DoctorBeaver, Sat, 31st May 2008

Initially I thought it was unbeelievable, a piss take, but now I'm a beeliever after looking at a SEM image of a honeybee ...

If its mouthparts were extended, rather than crossed as in the SEM image, they could look like a lower jaw.

So the photographer is not guilty of bee-hive-ing badly. (groan) RD, Sun, 1st Jun 2008

RD - oh dear. You've sunk to our level. I knew it would happen.

Incidentally, did you know that bees have been to the Moon? They were part of the Apollen program!  DoctorBeaver, Sun, 1st Jun 2008

Must have been a waxing moon! Bass, Sun, 1st Jun 2008

Or was it a honey-comb??

rosalind dna, Sun, 1st Jun 2008

Preferable to a nit comb. DoctorBeaver, Sun, 1st Jun 2008

comb sweet comb turnipsock, Sun, 1st Jun 2008

Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz  LOL LOL LOL Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzz rosalind dna, Sun, 1st Jun 2008

I admit these jokes are bee-knee-th my usual standard. RD, Sun, 1st Jun 2008

You are bee-yond help. DoctorBeaver, Sun, 1st Jun 2008

As Turnipsock had said that bees do have knees and was mentioned on the good TNS show tonight that bees DO have knees, I believe him but can't stop finding it funny.

So bee-coming are their buzzes rosalind dna, Sun, 1st Jun 2008

Bee hive yourselves and do some serious Science. lyner, Mon, 2nd Jun 2008

Like why do Bees fly away from their hives to who knows where.

To gather more pollen or to make another new swarm elsewhere>>?? rosalind dna, Mon, 2nd Jun 2008

Bees swarm to divide the colony & start a new hive. Approximately 60% of the bees leave the existing colony.

There are 3 main reasons why the colony divides:-

Internal hive problems DoctorBeaver, Mon, 2nd Jun 2008

Presumably the last reason listed would include fire ...

RD, Mon, 2nd Jun 2008

Beekeepers do use smoke to get at the fresh honeycombs so I have
been told or read about. rosalind dna, Mon, 2nd Jun 2008

Bees even have aerials to tune in to TNS radio show on the Bee Bee C  ...  RD, Tue, 3rd Jun 2008

Another reason that the hive of bees just vanish could be because the queen dies, she is the main bee, who keeps it going. someone will correct me perhaps Turnipsock, Doctor Beaver Andrew or ???
rosalind dna, Tue, 3rd Jun 2008

how do you know? Nubbly, Thu, 21st Jan 2010

Bees suck...Wasps are waaaay cooler!!! Marie, Fri, 8th Oct 2010

See the whole discussion | Make a comment

Not working please enable javascript
Powered by UKfast
Genetics Society