The Bee’s Knees: Do Bees Possess Knees?

Many of us will be familiar with the old saying, ‘the bee’s knees’. This familiar phrase is often used to describe something that is too good to be true, or exceptionally brilliant.

The Bee’s Knees Do Bees Possess Knees

It is, however, one of those phrases that make you stop and think. Why do we call something good ‘the bee’s knees’?

Do bees even have knees? Most people have never gotten close enough to examine a bee’s anatomy, especially their smaller, harder-to-view limbs.

If you have been thinking about this question recently, look no further. In this article, we will find out whether or not bees really do have knees, as well as looking into the phrase itself, finding out why it came to exist in the first place.

So, let’s get into it! Let’s find out whether bees actually do have knees.

Do Bees Actually Have Knees?

Bees have knees that divide their tibias and femurs, akin to human beings and many other creatures. They have a total of six knees altogether, for each leg. However, unlike us, bees do not have patellas or kneecaps.

Their knee joints are located in the same location on the leg, and functions similarly to ours.

This means that bees have the same range of motion in their legs as humans have, being able to bend and extend their legs, thanks to their knees.

If you were to look at a bee up close, you would notice that their legs are made up of three sections: two larger sections, and the foot. The femur is the upper portion, and the tibia is the lower part.

The knee can be located between these sections.

Why do Bees Have Knees?

You may be wondering why bees, as tiny flying insects, would even need to have knees in the first place.

Well, bees get into some awkward circumstances when they creep into flowers and within beehives. Bees have ligaments and muscles connecting each and every one of their leg components, just as other insects do.

They can fold their legs into tighter areas, specifically because of their knees.

A honey bee uses her knees for more than just getting around; she also uses them to rake pollen off the ground using spikes on her back legs. The pollen is then transmitted to a pollen press, which is a part positioned on their knees.

For building honeycombs, cleansing antennae, and eliminating parasites and invaders from the beehive, knees make life a lot simpler for bees.

The Anatomy Of A Bee’s Leg

Bee legs are a lot more intricate than our legs. They are a crucial component of their anatomy, and are employed in several everyday routines. They need a large movement scope to be useful.

The Bee’s Knees Do Bees Possess Knees (1)

The trochanter, coxa, tibia, femur, tarsi, and basitarus are the six components of a honey bee’s leg. The largest and most noticeable components of a bee’s leg are the tibia and femur, which surround the knee.

The trochanter and coxa can be found further along the top of the leg, while the basitarus and tarsi make up the foot.

The bee’s ankle is the joint where its basitarsus and tibia meet. It gives the bee freedom when landing and moving around on terrain.

Similarly to their knees, a bee’s ankles are not clearly visible, and can only be noticed when the bee is moving its legs.

Where Did The Expression ‘Bee’s Knees’ Originate?

Many of you readers will have, likely, come across this old expression at some point in your lives. If something is particularly good, it will be named ‘the bee’s knees’.

For example, you may think that the new restaurant that you visited over the weekend was the bee’s knees, thanks to their cheap prices and delicious food.

The more we think about it, though, the weirder the phrase becomes. Why do we call something good ‘the bee’s knees’?

Even though there are varying views on the initial origin of the phrase, many individuals think the expression dates back to the 18th century. Initially, it was used to refer to something little or minor, or something that didn’t exist.

This makes a lot of sense when you think about that fact that bees’ knees are very small, and are not visible unless you look really closely.

The meaning of the expression, however, altered in the 1920s and evolved into the snappy wordplay it is nowadays. Now, if something is the bee’s knees, it is amazing and out of this world.

This phrase may have developed from something from someone saying that something is so good that they cannot believe it exists.

During this time, the expression ‘cat’s pajamas’, which has the same meaning, also became widely used. The ‘dog’s b*llocks’ is another expression that is used more frequently in the UK, which is a cruder form of the term.

Final Thoughts

Yes, bees have knees. Their knees are located between their tibia and femur, just like ours, except bees do not have kneecaps like we do. 

The other components that make up a bee’s leg are the trochanter, coxa, tarsi, and basitarus, with their ankles being located between their basitarus and tibia.

While a bee’s ankles and knees are not highly visible, they are there! 

Due to their low visibility, this is likely where the old saying ‘the bee’s knees’ originated from; it likely came from many people believing that something is too good to be true.

A bee will use their knees to crawl within their beehives, and also into flowers, helping them navigate around surfaces much more easily. They allow bees to fold their legs in so that they can move around tighter, smaller spaces.

We hope you found this article helpful.

Thomas Callaghan
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