Do Bees Have Fur?

If you have ever watched the Discovery Channel and seen bees foraging the flower field, then you may have noticed that these bees look like they are miniature animals that have fur covering their bodies, like some animals. Some bees will even look bulky because of all the fuzzy hairs attached to their tiny bodies and legs. 

But the question is, is it really fur, or is it something else?

Though some bees look like they are all covered in fur, they are not because fur only applies to mammals, like bears, foxes, and minks. However, though bees don’t have fur, they have hairs that are an extension of their body’s exoskeleton that helps them clean their antennae, assist in pollen collection and holding, regulate their body temperature, sense, and more [1].

Now, let us learn more about these tiny hairy insects that we depend on so much.

bees landing on a beehive

What is fur?

Before we can decide whether bees have fur, it is important to first know the meaning of fur and differentiate it from what the fuzzy bees have attached all over their body.

According to [3], fur is the fine, thick, hairy coat of mammals. It is also crucial to understand that the fur that covers many animals is exclusive to mammals, and no other animals possess ‘true hair’ except mammals [4].

The structure, purpose, and functions of fur for mammals differ greatly from how bees use their ‘hairs,’ including the location of their hairs.

Do bees have fur?

Now that we defined what fur is, it is safe to say that bees don’t have fur. However, they have hair-like structures all over their body, which are extensions of their exoskeleton. The exoskeleton is the hard outer body of insects. 

The bees’ hairs can be plumose or have some kind of filament or branches that are helpful when collecting pollen from flowers during their daily foraging. They also have thousands of unbranched hairs all over their bodies, which serves a similar purpose.

Aside from the hairs on their bodies, their feet have up to five times as much hair [5]. In their legs are what’s referred to as pollen baskets since the tibia of their hind legs contains hairs that are capable of harvesting pollen at a higher capacity, called pollen pellets [6].

The bees’ hairs are also present in the body of all types of bees, whether they are queens, workers, or drones.

bees landing on a beehive

Which parts of the bees have hairs?

Bees have hairs all over their body, allowing them to perform different functions. Bees have almost three million hairs throughout their body, which will enable them to collect pollen for almost 30% of their body. Let us see which parts of the bees’ bodies contain hairs.

1. Eyes

Bees have so many hairs in their eyes that they are also capable of holding on to pollen. Researchers also discovered that the spacing of the bees’ eyes is enough to hold on to one grain of pollen. But when they need to clean their eyes, they use their forelegs. 

2. Forelegs

The forelegs are the front legs of bees. They are also filled with hairs that are commonly used to clean their antennae and eyes from pollen. The hairs on the forelegs are appropriately spaced to maximize the number of pollen they can remove. Their forelegs can efficiently clean their eyes with just a few swipes.

3. Hind legs

The hind legs are the back legs of bees, which have more interesting parts compared to their forelegs. Bumble bees’ hind legs have various combs and brushes used when foraging and collecting pollen. 

The hind legs have an amazing feature that allows bees to collect more pollen baskets conveniently located on the outside surface of their tibia. 

When these pollen baskets are empty, they look like a flat surface with hairs around them, but when they are filled with pollen, they can be of various colors of pollen, like yellow or red [11].

4. Body

The bee’s bodies are filled with hairs from their thorax down to their abdomen, which they use when collecting pollen. Their bodies have branched and unbranched hairs on their body that allows a better collection of pollen.

5. Tongue

The bee’s tongue is also one of the parts of the bees with hairs that they commonly use when they drink nectar from flowers. The hairs on their tongue are helpful when collecting nectar from various flowers since they will have different viscosities.

bees flying into a beehive

What is the purpose of a bee’s hair?

The bees’ hairs are distributed all over their body, from their eyes, feet, body, and tongue. These hairs are conveniently located in these parts to serve different purposes, aside from just pollen collection.

1. For collecting and carrying pollen

Bees are amazing creatures that contribute significantly to our food production, even if we’re mostly unaware, through the use of the hairs on their body when collecting pollen for their consumption and pollinating the flowers in return.

Honeybees have almost three million hairs all over their little bodies that they efficiently use to collect and carry pollen. At the same time, they can easily brush them off to remove the collected pollen when it’s time to deposit what they accumulated [5].

The bee’s hairs, both from their bodies and feet, are specially designed to hold on to the pollen they collected during their flight and when they arrive in their hives. Bees can even carry up to 30% weight in pollen and nectar.

2. For cleaning and grooming

After the bees finish collecting nectar and pollen from the flowers, there are times when they are filled with pollen all over their bodies, including their eyes and antenna, which are very crucial in navigating back to the hive. When that happens, the bees can use their hairy forelegs to clean their eyes and antenna in no time. 

Aside from cleaning for navigation, they also remove excessive pollen from their body to maintain their weight when flying since bees can carry up to 30% of their body weight in pollen. 

It has also been studied that the geometry and spacing of their hairs enable a more efficient clean-up of their eyes and antenna, and also when they are grooming to remove the pollen from their bodies [7].

The hairs of the bees are specially designed not only for efficiently holding on to the pollen but also when removing them. Bees can remove thousands of pollen particles in just a few minutes.

3. For regulation of their body temperature, especially in the cold winter

Aside from the bees’ hairs’ effectiveness for pollen collection and grooming, their hairs are also helpful in terms of maintaining their body temperature during cold weather. 

The bees’ hairs have a heat retention property that allows them to maintain heat in their body and avoid the heat from escaping, a particularly crucial property for the survival of the bees in cold weather [8].

4. Feeding

Aside from the pollen that bees collect, they also drink nectar from the flowers. They can effectively use their tongue, which is filled with hair structure with dynamic spacing, allowing them to collect the nectar of different viscosities from different flowers [9].

5. Picking up electric fields of flowers for sensory purposes

Another interesting ability of the body hairs of bees is that they can be used to detect electric fields of flowers. 

According to an article published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, bees, particularly bumblebees, can detect the electric fields of flowers using their hairs. Bees go to obtain a positive charge on their bodies during their flight. Since flowers have a negative charge, their antennae or filiform sensory hairs move because opposite charges attract [10].

beekeeper taking out beehive


From the eyes of an outside observer like us, looking at bees and seeing them fly with their fluffy little bodies, it would be easy to assume that bees have fur because of the hair-like structure running throughout their bodies, similar to what many animals do.

However, fur is exclusive to mammals. So since bees are insects, they can’t technically have fur. Nonetheless, these tiny bees have hair-like structures attached through their bodies which, in reality, are extensions of their exoskeleton.

Bees use these hair-like structures along their body in various ways, such as cleaning, collecting, and holding pollen when foraging, regulating their temperature, and more.

So, next time that you see bees learn to appreciate them more because their bodies are designed to function in a way that helps them collect their food and, at the same time, pollinate the food that we eat.


[1] – New Technologies for Agriculture Extension,
[2] – University of Delaware – College of Agriculture and Natural Resources,
[3] –,
[4] – Animal Diversity,
[5] – Quartz,
[6] – American Association for the Advancement of Science,
[7] – Bioinspiration & Biomimetics,
[8] – Future Cities and Environment,
[9] – Journal of Theoretical Biology,
[10] – Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
[11] –,