why are honeycombs hexagonal

Learn More About A Bee’s Favourite Shape!

When you think about bees and honeycombs, you almost always picture the neatly aligned hexagons within the comb. In fact, bees pretty much never make any other shape! Perhaps you’ve wondered why bees only use hexagons? Wouldn’t a rectangle or circle work? Learn more about the benefits of using hexagons within the honeycomb in this article.

 

How Are Honeycombs Made?

Honeycombs are made from beeswax, a smooth, yellow substance. At the right temperature, worker bees or house bees within the hive begin to secret wax from special glands within their body. At this point, bees begin to mix the wax with bits of pollen and honey within their mouths. The hexagonal cells do many things, from storing excess honey to the larvae that eventually grow to become the various bees in the hive. Learn more about the various types of bees within the hive!

a resilient shape

#1 A Resilient Shape

The hexagonal shape of the honeycomb is incredibly good at bearing weight. According to Sue Cobey, a bee researcher at Washington State University, the geometry of this shape uses the least amount of material to hold the most weight. This makes the hexagonal shape incredibly efficient when storing many different substances. In fact, humans have begun to take inspiration from the bees. The distinctive hexagonal honeycomb shape has begun to appear in architecture around the world. Learn more in the link down below!

a seamless design

#2 A Seamless Design

As compared to a circle, having cells that a circular in shape could leave gaps within the honeycomb. This could potentially be disastrous for the bees since they need to maintain a warm temperature within the honeycomb to produce honey and wax most efficiently. On top of that, gaps in the honeycomb leave the hive at great risk. The internal areas of the hive could be exposed to the elements and even natural predators that love the sweet honey that bees produce. Having the holes plugged with wax would also require a lot of wax and energy, along with wasted space within the honeycomb. Comparatively, hexagons allow for the best utilization of space, while leaving the hive seamless and gap-free. Amazing!

a seamless design

#3 Energy Conservation

As you’ve already seen, using the hexagonal shape in the honeycomb is an incredibly efficient method for building it. On top of that, the energy and time saved when building an efficient honeycomb can be used elsewhere. Other tasks, such as pollen and nectar collection, caring for babies and tending to the queen bee can be done at a faster rate instead with all of the energy saved.

Conclusion

Truly, bees are much better mathematicians than any of us who have never done a day of math homework in our lives. Bees are truly able to use creative geometry and the unique properties of the hexagonal shape to strengthen the hive and serve their purpose. Indeed, bees are amazing insects to be able to produce a hive that we humans model many things after.

However, bees don’t just produce honeycombs! They also make miraculous honey that has many amazing health benefits. If you’re interested to pick a jar of honey, click the links down below.

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