The bumblebee has a long, reddish-coloured
tongue that is hairy at the end so is good for soaking up nectar (see left and below).
bumblebee is flying the tongue is folded under its head and body inside a horny
sheath formed by the palps and maxillae. In the drawing below and the photographs left and below the tongue itself
is the long thing in the middle, the two outer parts on each side form the
sheath, they are called the palp and the maxilla.
Taste and smell in bumblebees
The tongue and mouthparts are covered in tiny hairs and these hairs have pores in them. Molecules pass through these pores and stick to receptor sites on sensory cells. This is how the bee tastes and smells. The main concentration of these hairs are on the antenna and mouthparts. In the
photograph below left shows the antennae, which are black, then in the middle the tongue,
palps and maxillae.