Friday, September 30, 2011

The Bee Honeycomb

Ancient depictions of the honey bee honeycomb indicate a fascination with the wondrous honey bees and its dwelling place for as far back as history has been recorded. As the main feature of bee hives, the honeycomb (or is it Honey Comb?) is an engineering marvel that continues to fascinate onlookers both young and old. However, for a bee, honeycomb construction, maintenance and protection is a crucial mechanism in their most complex society. 

This is where all the action takes place in the bee hives, this is the honey bee?s home, and they use it just as we use our own homes. They are born there, they work there, this is where they make honey and did you know they even perform a bee dance there. It is in fact the very foundation for raw honey which is an absolute treat to eat. 

It is full of life giving properties, just ask those into beekeeping! It is also readily available to buy and if you are lucky enough to ever bite into a bee honeycomb........oh wow, you will love it!
It is primarily made of bees wax, which is produced from the abdominal glands of female worker bees when they are approximately two weeks old. 

The beeswax produced is then carefully shaped by the mouths of the worker bees, which are female, into sturdy panels that are designed to be flat panelled cells containing six equal sides. It is also in these cells that the colony's young are raised and protected, and it is in these cells of the bee honeycomb where benefits of bee pollen and honey are also stored on which they feed.

Interestingly there are thousands of bees building the honey combs at any one time and even though their work is mainly undertaken in darkness they still manage to keep out of each others way!

This actually contains two sides with cells lining each panel. Each cell in the honey comb is precision crafted to be uniform throughout the entire structure.

Each bee honeycomb is also built at strict intervals, which are determined by the bees according to which ones were built to store food and which were built for the purpose of housing the colony's young.
The honey bee queen even deposits her eggs in a designated section of the bee honeycomb referred to as the brood comb.

Why Is It So Important to Honey Bees and Humans?

The highly complex, well-planned engineering and storage system of this structure has fascinated scholars and scientists for centuries. Over 2,000 years ago, scholars in Greece marvelled at the "geometrical forethought" of the honey combs, which was crafted in the exact measurement needed to efficiently store honey which they and we need for the health benefits of honey and of course for most of our medical benefits of honey needs. 

Charles Darwin even described the engineering of the honeycombes as being perfect in economizing labour and wax. Quote from Darwin: He must be a dull man who can examine the exquisite structure of a comb, so beautifully adapted to its end without enthusiastic admiration. Beyond this stage of perfection in architecture natural selection could not lead. Unquote

In his fourth century the "Sagacity of Bees" essay, written by the great Greek mathematician, Pappus of Alexandria, cites the bee honeycomb as being in possession of a sense of symmetry that Pappus described as divine.

The essay further marvels at the building and maintenance being done in such a way that there are no cracks where even the slightest bit of honey might be lost.
To ensure the honeycombes and bee hive is completely germ free the honey bees also collect Propolis to disinfect their hives.

Why Is It Still Fascinating to Scientists and Mathematicians to this Very Day

To this day, researchers, scientists, scholars and mathematicians closely study the complex building structure honeycombs for clues as to how these tiny insects are inspired to build such a masterpiece without elaborate plans, advanced skills and the mathematical genius that is needed to build similar structures in the human world.

From ancient to modern times, the bee honeycomb is both a mystery and a marvel. In seeking to understand where the intelligence to build such exact, perfect and useful structures hails, delving into the perfect social intuition of the honey bee is also helpful.

In studying the fascinating world of these tiny, historically rich insects which are fast becoming missing bees because of human interference on our planet.

Humans find that the bee honeycomb is but one single piece of evidence leading to the fact that the honey bees are amongst one of the most complex creatures on the planet earth. They are now known to have been around for at least 110,000,000 years after a perfectly formed fossil of a honey bee in amber was discovered in 2006.

Perhaps we need to study these little four winged, six legged, five eyed insects even further before we become an endangered species ourselves due to their hard labours of not just building honey combs but for the simple reason that if they disappear then it is quite possible that we will disappear. Let's all help to Save the Honey Bees


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