Bee Anatomy

We've been watching busy bee's collecting pollen and nectar all summer long and wondered - how do they do this, what are those little yellow sacks on their legs and how does pollen turn into honey?

In order to find out, we gave ourselves a lesson on basic bee anatomy, here's what we learned!


The honeybee uses this long hairy tongue to pull liquid nectar from plants and flowers. The worker bee's transfer of pollen enables many plants to reproduce.  

Honey Stomach:
Nectar is stored inside the "honey stomach" which is then brought back to the hive and deposited into the honeycomb. 

Bees flit their wings to dry up the liquid nectar turning it into honey. 

Pollen Basket
The bee will diet on Pollen harvesting and transferring it on their hind legs.

Afraid to Ask? Annuals vs. Perennials

Annuals have one growing season and need to be replanted each spring. They include most vegetables like cucumbers and tomatoes, and flowers like Marigolds or Sunflowers.

Perennials are permanent residents in your garden and will return year after year.
Some examples include Asparagus and Strawberries. Plan ahead, because many perennials will spread year after year, but will also take a few years to establish roots and produce fruit. 

Cross Pollination

So now that we've got a handle on the basic anatomy of a bee, we wondered how the process of pollination actually occurs? Here's the technical definition:

  1. Pollination occurs when pollen is moved within flowers or carried from flower to flowerby pollinating animals such as birds, bees, bats, butterflies, moths, beetles, animals, or by the wind.

  2. The transfer of pollen in and between flowers of the same species leads to fertilization, and successful seed and fruit production for plants.

  3. Pollination ensures that a plant will produce full-bodied fruit and a full set of viable seeds.


Speaking of pollination
Did you know that bumble bee's actually "bumble" inside of flowers to knock the pollen onto it's back?! Very effective and very cute.

And for extra credit...
When deciding what to plant, check out the bloom times listed and try to space out your blooms so the pollinators have continuous pollen all season long. Those lil buddies will thank you and so will we!

Here is a list of beneficial plants for Minnesota Bee's.