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A+ For the Bees

by Trevor Major

Here's a test: what is the best way to fit as much milk in your refrigerator as possible? Your mother gives you bottles in the shape of squares, circles, triangles, and hexagons. What shape would you choose? If you answered hexagons, you'd be right. The six-sided shape of a hexagon would be the strongest way to store the most milk in the space you have.

Honey bees have already passed this test. They use wax to build honeycomb cells in the shape of hexagons, which they use to store honey, pollen, and developing bees.

But what about the base of the hexagonal cell? Many years ago, one scientist suggested that bees did not build the bottom end of the cell in the best way possible. Maybe it gets an A, but not an A+. He said there was a better way to build the base using less wax.

Now scientists have discovered that the bee may have had the best answer after all. They did experiments showing that the design used by the bees is better when the building material has more liquid in it. So, perhaps bees build the base the way they do because the wax starts out very soft. They are using the best design for soft wax, not for saving wax.

The honey bee gets an A+ for the honeycomb. It is one of the great builders of nature, and it follows the design of nature's greatest Architect—our God and Creator.