Respiratory System

For flight and other metabolic processes demanding oxygen, oxygen must in some way pass through the impervious cuticle to reach the mitochondria inside all the cells of the body. How do bees accomplish this?

Bees exchange gases through the tracheal system, a branching network of tubes throughout the body. Air conduits fill up large portions of the interior body. The tracheae open to the atmosphere through the spiracles, little openings resembling portholes in the cuticle. Each porthole possesses a closing mechanism that reduces loss of water from the respiratory tree. Oxygen influx and carbon dioxide efflux must occur through the tracheae, as the cuticle is quite impervious to these gases.

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