As we look inside the thorax and expose the wing muscles by pulling out most of the fat body, tracheal system, part of the central nervous system, and part of the digestive system, we are left we a clean look of the inside of the thorax.
The muscles only pull (like most muscules), so to get the four segments of wings(two front and two hind wings) to move, the honey bee has the vertical and longitudinal muscles. While one is pulling, the other is relaxing. The vertical muscles handle the up and down movement, and the longitudinal muscles handle the forward and backward movement.
With this x and y movement, the honey bee has a lot of turning ability and movement control while in the air – so they can land on a flower gracefully or speed away at upwards of 20 mph.
You also see the pair of spiracles; this opening is the first spiracles, and its located around the collar of the honey bee where the head and thorax meet. Honey bees have ten pairs of spiracles, but only nine are visible (the 10th is located within the sting chamber).
We will talk about the spiracles more in-depth in future articles. The spiracles are a part of the respiratory system of the honey bee, and this is where gases are transported. You can think of them as breathing holes of the honey bee.
You also see the large part of the tracheal system, the trachea tube. The trachea tubes connect to the spiracles and then branch into smaller tubes called tracheoles, where oxygen and carbon dioxide travel to and from cells.
The design and ingenuity of these creatures is awe-inspiring.
References and Extra Reading
- Honey Bee Biology page 70.
- The Beekeeper’s Handbook pages 12 – 14.
- A Closer Look: Basic Honey Bee Biology page 16.