Sexy legs and amazing feets: the honey bee legs quiz

Nothing about a honey bee fails to amaze me, and their legs are no exception. The following Honey Bee Legs Quiz is difficult, so consider it a learning experience. I thought I knew this material inside and out, but as I went from source to source to double check my facts, I found some discrepancies.

The parts of the legs are pretty straight forward, but their purpose is often a little hazy. You would think that we beekeepers and bee researchers would know all the details by now, but apparently not. Like I did in the Drone Quiz, I’ve tried to expand on the answers in the results page and mention areas that are confusing.

The Honey Bee Legs Quiz contains 16 questions. They are all worth 6 points except the last four, which are worth 7. Last month, I found that the scores kept improving as time went on. I decided that either people were re-taking the test or they were reading the comments where people discussed the questions (or both). So this time, you can still leave a comment, but I am going to hold those that give away the answers for a couple of days until more people get a chance to take the quiz. Just be patient and have fun.

Honey Bee Suite

A honey bee with full pollen baskets approaching a flower. Take the Honey Bee Legs Quiz.

Honey bee legs are tricky. © Rusty Burlew.

In order to see the answers at the end of the quiz, please respond to all the questions.


How many legs does a honey bee have?


How many legs are attached to the abdomen?


How many honey bee legs are attached to the thorax?


What is an arolium?


The thorax comprises three segments, and each segment supports one pair of legs.


Each bee leg has five major segments, the coxa, trocanter, femur, tibia, and tarsus. If a honey bee worker's legs were removed from her body, is it possible to tell them apart?


The last major leg segment, the tarsus (also known as the foot), is divided into a series of subsegments. The largest of these, and the one closest to the tibia, is the basitarsus. The following three small subsegments are called tarsomeres. The very last, most distal, subsegment is sometimes called the _______ (or toe).


Honey bees have both tarsal claws and an arolium attached to the end of each leg.


To avoid tripping all over themselves, bees move their legs in a coordinated fashion when they walk. In what way are they coordinated?


Where are the corbiculae found?


Describe the structure of the corbiculae (pollen baskets).


Where are the antenna cleaners?


Describe how the pollen moves from the pollen press into the pollen baskets.


The pollen rake is used to carefully remove pollen from the anthers of flowers.


How does the honey bee worker use the tibial spine on the midleg?


Pollen combs are comprised of densely-packed rows of hairs found on the inside of the ______ of the hind legs. Each pollen comb accumulates pollen from the opposite midleg.

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  • 50%! I think that’s good considering I’ve not studied the anatomy of any insect since biology class decades ago. When I can, I love just watching the bees come and go from their hives. Now I can practice my new anatomy terms as I watch them! I know they’re a lot of effort on your part, but I’m sure thankful for the quizzes, Rusty. I have a lot to learn and you help make it fun.

    • Thanks, Alice. I know the quiz was hard, but I hope to get beekeepers thinking about how a bee actually functions. When you know what they are doing, it makes them all the more fascinating.

  • Thanks for the quiz Rusty. I had never given bees legs much thought before. Only scored a 69% so I really need to get better educated. Please keep the quizes coming.

  • (in my most obnoxious whiny-baby voice) This test was too ha-ard!

  • Woohoo! I’d hope to do well on this – I did the BBKA module 5 last year (on honeybee biology). Still, you managed to come up with something I’d never heard of – Q15!

    All the best.

    Just sat the ‘final’ module 8 last week, so wish me luck!

  • I’m loving these quizzes Rusty, good fun and very testing but most of all they force further study, especially when one scores so poorly! I’m sure I am not alone in appreciation for your work in putting the tests together. It must be a LOT of work. Thanks!

    • Thanks, Ray. They are a lot of work, partly because I check multiple sources for each question, and partly because I’m still fighting with the software. On the other hand, I learn a lot too, which is always helpful. My desk is still strewn with bee books, all open to the anatomy section.

  • I never stop reading, there is always something new to learn, and as you said recently the more you learn the more you realise you don’t know!

  • I did pretty good, (82%) tho when I tried to cheat by look at one of my teaching slides, it gave me almost no help. (I’ll have to fix that.)

    Rusty, you know that you are the Bees Knees!

  • 57%. I can’t even pretend to know most of these answers, so even that low score was just lucky guessing! Thanks for the time you put into the quizzes. Much fun!

  • Hi Rusty,

    Many thanks for coming up with such an brilliant, interesting and difficult quiz.

    But I am going to be pedantic and query the answer to question 5. Does the bee thorax have 3 segments or 4? According to Rosanna Mattingly in one of your favourite bee anatomy books “the thorax of the honey bee has three segments plus one” … “the fourth segment is one that provides a point of potential confusion. This additional segment in the thorax is one that generally occurs in the abdomen of insects.”

    “The naming of the fourth segment in the thorax is consistent with its overall location and structure in insects.”

    To me this succinct description says that indeed a bee has 4 segments in the thorax, so the answer to question 5 is false.

    • MerryBee,

      What appears to be a fourth thoracic segment in bees is actually the first abdominal segment. This is based on two things: development and structure. For clarification see my post on naming segments. The first abdominal segment remains abdominal in structure but is attached to the thorax. If you look at Mattingly’s diagram on p. 38, you will see the three thoracic segments (I-III) and the first abdominal segment, I. This is why it’s always better to use mesosoma and metasoma instead of thorax and abdomen.

      Also see The Insect Thorax: “The thorax is the second of three major tagma, or segments that make up an insect’s body. The thorax of an insect is where all appendages for locomotion are, including legs and wings. The thorax consists of three segments, known as the prothorax, the mesothorax, and the metathorax, in that order.”

      I stand by my answer.

  • Agree it was harder. just shows how much more I don’t know about legs than drones. Thank you, Rusty, for the challenge.

  • You made me work hard for my 74% (Thank you Sam Droege for the identification class.)

    I could not call to mind how the legs moved, even after watching
    honey bees for hours over my lifetime. Obviously I need to watch
    more carefully.

    Loved this!

  • I flunked! 38%. Will you provide a normalization or curve for folks ignorant of entomology? I should have known the number of legs on these critters. My bad.

  • Having not studied any more than the very basic honey bee anatomy I found this quiz both challenging and extremely interesting. Keep these quizzes coming!!