Bees and other insects are invertebrates (animals without backbones), meaning they have a very different body than vertebrates (animals with backbones, including humans) . This means their body parts also perform a different function than what we’re accustomed to humans, like their bones, hearts, and lungs.
So to add to the curiosity, do bees have ears, and can they even hear their own buzzing and other sounds?
Bees don’t have an external ear that we are familiar with. However, they can still detect sounds, like the piping sound of the new queen bee, and the dance sounds when communicating with other bees through air particle movements. Instead of a pair of ears, bees have Johnston’s Organ, a chordotonal organ located in the second segment of their antennae (pedicel) to detect near-field sounds .
Now, let us learn more about how bees can still hear even without having an ear.
Do bees have ears?
Humans use our ears to hear, which is a crucial part of our daily lives and survival, such as when we socialize and communicate . This gives rise to the thought, especially for bee enthusiasts, to think if bees also have ears that they used to hear or pick up sound.
However, since bees are an entirely different specie than us and are invertebrates, they have different organs or body parts to use for similar functions, including the ears for hearing.
Bees don’t have an external ear attached to their head like humans. However, though they don’t have this organ, they still have a way of detecting sound particles in their surrounding that is also crucial to their survival.
Remember that sound is only a vibration in transmission mediums, like air , so bees can also have other body parts they can use for hearing.
What sounds do bees hear?
Queen bees are the most crucial bee in the colony. When they get out of their queen cell, they will announce it to the hive through a loud sound called piping at a frequency of 450 Hz and inform the worker bees.
This can also signal the start of swarming by other queen bees and part of the colony, preventing rival queen bees from emerging in the same hive. This only means that the other worker bees hear the sound they make . The loud sound will stop after the swarm left.
Honeybees also emit sound signals in the air through dancing to communicate the location of potential foraging sites to other worker bees. This dance sound causes the air particle to move rhythmically and be received and decoded by other bees.
Bees are also found to be capable of detecting sounds up to around 500 Hz. On the other hand, they can produce sound frequencies from 10 to 1,000 Hz . In comparison, humans usually talk at 500 Hz to 2,000 Hz while being capable of hearing at 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. This means that we humans can also hear bee sounds.
How can bees hear?
In an experiment conducted by researchers to determine the auditory sense organs of honeybees, they used operant conditioning to train bees to respond to sound. The experiment revealed that they can, in fact, hear without ears, just not on what they initially thought – which is through the hairs on their antenna or head.
Instead, they discovered that honeybees use another organ called the Johnston’s Organ to detect sound . The Johnston’s Organ is a Chordotonal Organ (stretch receptors)  located at the second segment of the bee’s antenna (pedicel) , which is also found on arthropods and other insects.
Bees are social insects, so it is only natural for them to have a form of communication and a way to interact with their environment. Experiments have proved that bees can hear since they can hear the piping sound of a new queen bee and also the dance sounds they make to communicate with other bees when locating sources of food. However, they don’t have ears as mammals have.
Instead of ears, bees detect sound waves through air particle movements through an organ in the second segment of their antenna called the Johnston’s Organ.
To summarize, bees don’t have ears, but they can hear. They just use a different organ to pick up the sound waves in the environment.
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