Introduction

An adult worker honeybee represents the generalized insect body plan and its subsystems. However, this worker bee blueprint modifies the plan of a generalized insect. This chapter summarizes bee anatomy. After laying out her plan, we shall shrink her dimensions.

Why choose honeybees? Honeybees are large common denizens of gardens, are easily raised, are not yet extinct, and we understand honeybee anatomy and physiology quite well compared with these in other insects. Evolution over geological time has perfected myriad variations on the 'insect' theme.

Insect bodies are compact, light and stable. They function well in all climates and at atmospheric pressures. There are at least five to ten million species of insects and only forty-two thousand vertebrate species; consequently, insects form an incredibly rich but largely unknown source of ideas to be mined for miniaturizing our engineering innovations. We shall continually ask ourselves: how might a shrinking bee generate ideas for human designers of small mechanical devices.

Crayfish and lobsters and other arthropods, also constructed on 'bee-type' plans, are much larger than insects, so their anatomy appears more comprehensible to our unaided eye. Arthropods come in large as well as very small sizes indicating the arthropod body-plan remains relatively unaltered and, hence, quite recognizable and robust over a very broad range of sizes. Evolution of external arthropod armor permits a tank-like defending shell as well as a secure attachment for muscles and water-proofing. Later modifications that came to be wings also now serve as solar heating panels and signaling devices.

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