Which Class Do Honeybees Belong To?

When it comes to taxonomy, we divide different species into different categories, which helps identify species and show relations between different types of animals. These types of bees fall into several different categories across taxonomy, from their kingdom Animalia to their species name, mellifera. With that in mind, which class to honeybees belong to?

Class Insecta

Honeybees fall under the class “Insecta,” indicating that they are in the same category as most other insects. Amongst others in this class taxonomy, this species of bees share these common traits:

  • Jointed legs
  • Compound eyes
  • Two antennae
  • Exoskeletons
  • Three-part bodies

This classification makes honeybees related to other insects like butterflies, beetles, and ants, to same some degree. The further you go down the taxonomy, the more refined and specific the characteristics. At the class level, all insects are related and share common traits. Potentially, this means that bees could share a common evolutionary ancestor with these and other insect species.

Honeybees also share Class Insecta with other types of bees, including those that do not produce any honey. The different ones don’t have geographical boundaries. However, you’ll likely see related species in close proximity to others.

The science of taxonomy or classification of organisms was the brainchild of Swedish botanist, Carl Linnaeus in 1735. It created an international language of grouping living and extinct life forms that focused on morphology to determine relationships between similar organisms.

Class is the fifth level down. There are an estimated 10 million total species that represent upward of 90 present of all that exist on the planet today. Its significance to the planet cannot be overestimated.

Complete Taxonomy

The complete taxonomy of honeybees is as follows:

  • Kingdom: Animalia. Like other types of animals, bees fall under this kingdom.
  • Phylum: Arthropoda. The Arthropoda phylum includes all animals that have exoskeletons and jointed legs.
  • Class: Insecta. Aside from their legs and exoskeletons, animals in the class Insecta have the other defining features mentioned above.
  • Order: Hymenoptera. Insects within this order have membranous wings. Some example members include bees, ants, sawflies, and wasps.
  • Family: Apidae. Derived from the Latin word for “bee.”
  • Genus: Apis. Likewise, the class name also derives from Latin for “bee.'
  • Species: Mellifera. The final piece of honeybee's taxonomy, their species name refers to their capacity for honey production.

Further differences between honeybees have potentially developed across regions, leading to a possible need for more distinct classification between these different types of bees. 

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