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The Sound of Science - 'Bee's Knees'

NIU STEAM
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NIU STEAM

Do bees really have knees?

Jasmine: This is Jasmine.

Chrissy: And I am Chrissy.

Jasmine: We're from NIU STEAM and..

Chrissy: This is The Sound of Science on WNIJ.

Jen: My name is Jen and I use the phrase "the bee's knees" all the time. I was wondering if bees do in fact have knees.

Jasmine: Thanks for the question, Jen! "The bee's knees" is a phrase sometimes used to describe a person, thing, or situation that is particularly special or amazing. Though there are a few explanations as to how the phrase came to be, we're going to use it to look at our friend the bee.

Chrissy: Melissophobia or apiphobia is the intense fear, specifically, of bees and not hornets or wasps. Bees differ from hornets and wasps in that they are vegetarians that feed on pollen and nectar and not carnivores that feed on insects and spiders. Bees also build their nests out of wax, where hornets or
wasps use wood products or mud. Bees are also far less aggressive - they are less territorial and can only sting once because their first sting is also their last.

Jasmine: Bees are extremely important to the world we live in! 90% of the world's plants require cross-pollination to survive, that is pollen to be moved from one part of the plant to another. It is said that bees play a key role in one out of every three bites of food we eat. Bees help encourage wild plant growth which is essential in the survival of other species. Their hives serve as homes for other living things and bees encourage biodiversity - influencing every part of a healthy ecosystem.

Chrissy: Bees are pretty much essential to life on this planet as we know it. But do they have knees? It depends on what you mean by the term "knee". Just like humans, the bees' legs are made up of
segments, 5 of them in fact: the coxa, trochanter, femur, tibia and tarsus. You might recognize some of those words, as they are found in the human body as well. The human knee is made up of a bone that floats within aligament that holds the top bone of the leg to the bottom bones of the leg.

Jasmine: Bees have an outer skeleton called an exoskeleton made of a material called chitin. The chitin joints fit together like a human hip, with a ball and socket. They don't contain ligaments or tendons that would just get in the way. So, though not like a human kneecap, they do have joints throughout their leg segments that allow them to bend and twist.

Chrissy: This is The Sound of Science on WNIJ, where you learn something new everyday.

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