Honey bees hold an important place in the ecosystem and our lives too. It is the world's most important pollinator of food crops. It has been estimated that 1/3rd of the food we eat relies upon the pollination done mainly by the little honey bees and some other birds, insects, and bats. Apart from pollinating the crops, honey bees also provide us with many beneficial bee products used by us in various ways.
Honey bees are hard-working creatures and extremely intelligent. They know how to overcome all the obstacles and can learn new things by watching others. In addition, they are brilliant mathematicians and have mastered the art of storing natural honey by utilizing minimum resources. But do you know how honey bees keep this considerable amount of honey? It becomes possible because of the efficient honeycomb. But there is one secret about this honeycomb, which is its hexagonal shape.
Honeycomb Building Process
Honey bees gather nectar and pollen from blossoms to make honey, a sweet food, for the bee colony. Honey offers bees the energy they need to endure and reproduce, as well as to fabricate their homes. Working drones need a great deal of energy to make good wax and should thus consume a lot of honey. A few investigations gauge that honey bees should devour eight ounces of honey for each ounce of wax they produce. Envision the number of blossoms a honey bee should have to visit to change nectar into eight ounces of honey!
Overall, every honey bee can deliver around 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in the course of its life. If a honey bee was to give one pound of nectar, it would have to visit around 2 million blossoms. An entire state may go approximately 55,000 miles in the course of its life!
Honey bees have evolved to build hexagonal honeycomb cells very skillfully. So why do honey bees use this specific shape to store honey? The short answer to this question is that a hexagonal shape enables bees to make proper use of the space using minimum amounts of wax. As hexagons fix tight and side-by-side together, no space is wasted, and large amounts of honey can be stored.
How Bees Build Hexagonal Shaped Honeycomb?
Honey bees work hard to make honeycombs. Wax is secreted by every young bee and carefully developed into completely uniform hexagonal-formed wax cells by numerous working drones. Numerous individual cells should be made to have a fine comb to store honey.
Honey is the bees' regular food source, eaten by the entire colony throughout the cold weather months when there are deficient blossoms to collect nectar. Each cell is built in a hexagonal prism shape. All these cells are identical, uniform, have straight edges, and are fitted tightly. This shape is selected to minimize the gaps so that no vital space is wasted.
Honey bees chose hexagonal shapes rather than squares or circles to build honeycombs to make the most honey while using less amount of wax. A Roman scholar named Marcus Terentius Varro in 36 BC proposed that hexagons break up flat space into tiny units more economically, thereby holding more honey by using less wax.
According to Mr. Basem Barry, owner of Geohoney, it is a well-known fact that the productivity of the hexagon-shaped honeycomb made by the bees, however, propelled people in the formation of structures, transportation, and storage. Getting inspired by the hexagonal construction of the honeycomb, mechanical and chemical designing, biomedicine and nanofabrication fields are utilizing this design too. We all should thank these little bees for such great inspiration and the variety of food we are getting. Let us all join hands in saving these little pollinators and our nature too!