Representational Image
Representational Image

Do you know another name for bees and ants? If you said insects, you’re correct. There are more different types of insects than any other organism on the planet! Insects are creatures with six segmented legs and three-part bodies. The parts are the head, thorax, and abdomen. Bees and ants both have compound eyes (made up of many tiny eyes) and antennae (or feelers).

Bees and ants also follow the same kind of life cycle, a metamorphosis. First, the queen bee or ant (the mother of all the bees and ants) lays an egg. After a period of time, a larva hatches from the egg. The larva doesn’t look like a bee or ant at all, but actually looks like a worm! Although the larva doesn’t have legs and is generally immobile, it will move its head toward food. Soon the larva becomes a pupa (pyu-pa). In this stage, the pupa begins to look more like a bee or an ant. Following a molting (or shedding) process, a full-grown bee or ant emerges.

After that initial molting, bees and ants will molt several times throughout their lives. Molting is how insects grow! Since bees and ants have exoskeletons (hard, armor-like covering), they must shed it, or molt, in order to grow.

Another common feature between bees and ants is that they’re both very social creatures. Like most social insects, they live with other bees and ants in large group communities. Bees live in beehives with many other bees. Ants live in anthills or colonies. Another name for insect communities is nest.

Although some people refer to them as pests, bees and ants are two insects that actually help humans in some ways. For example, in their hunt for food, ants clean up the environment by removing dead bugs, leaves, and food items left behind by humans and animals. They also eat harmful insects. The tunnels that ants dig in their nests allow more air to reach the soil, which helps plants grow.

As for bees, they make the honey we eat! First, a honeybee visits a flower, collecting nectar. Then they return to the hive and regurgitate (return undigested food from stomach to mouth) the nectar into the honeycomb. The bees repeat this process several times. Inside the bees’ stomachs, the nectar combines with enzymes (something bodies make to help digest food) and produces honey. Bees make and store honey so they’ll have food to eat during the winter when there are no flowers, but human beekeepers harvest honey for us to eat, too!

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