Have you ever wondered why all honeycombs are hexagonal? Why is it that bees always choose the hexagonal shape to store honey in their beehives?
Bees are brilliant animals. They can imitate other animals in problem-solving. A study shows that bees possess amazing mathematical skills.
Over the evolutionary history of bees, it has become their instinct to make hexagonal cells in their beehives. There are also substantial scientific reasons as to why hexagonal shapes favour bees.
The Honeycomb Structure
The honeycomb is a compact structure created by bees from beeswax to store honey. In the right temperature, the worker bees secrete wax scales from their special glands. Then they chew the wax with honey to create beeswax. It takes nearly two tablespoons of honey to make one ounce of wax.
Honey is an essential resource that sustains the beehive. In winter, when the bees are unable to gather nectar and pollen, they are reliant on the honey.
So, why do they build hexagonal cell structures? Well, they choose this shape because it is the most efficient and strong shape to store honey.
Why Hexagonal Cells?
Mathematicians claim that hexagon is the most efficient shape in nature. The six-sided shape of the hexagon makes it the most muscular structure among other geometrical shapes.
Hexagonal shape utilizes space and resources important for the bee efficiently. Bees create maximum space from hexagon cells in their beehives where they store honey.
If we see it from an evolutionary perspective, bees need to utilize space to save their beeswax. Beeswax is used to build honeycomb cells but to make an ounce of wax; bees need to collect 8 ounces of honey. The sweet nectar is essential for a bee’s survival. So, they cannot simply waste honey to make wax.
More significantly, hexagon gives a compact structure and zero gaps between each unit in a beehive. This dense structure requires less wax to be built, which is what bees exactly want.
Why do other shapes not work?
If you look at a sphere, pentagon or octagon, they create gaps which require more wax to fill it. This results in the loss of essential honey.
Shapes like a triangle and square do not create gaps. However, they don’t give the same compactness of hexagon. Such a structure will not be strong enough to hold the honey.
So, hexagon shapes are perfect for bees. Hexagon saves wax and provides compact space for bees to store up their honey.
Now you know that bees make hexagon cells in their bee house because of the compactness and strength the hexagonal structure provides. Similarly, creating a hexagonal structure is the most efficient as it requires less beeswax which results in a low wastage of honey.
Bees are surely natural mathematicians. What do you think about their brilliance? Let us know in the comments below!