What an eye-opening lecture! Jason, the bee-keeper, gave us such a passionate talk on hive-building, bee-keeping and a bio of bees in our ecosystem.
I was greatly intrigued by the perfect geometrical structure of the honey comb. Jason mentioned these honey combs are built by worker bees to contain larvae and store honey and pollen. But how and why the mass of hexagonal wax cells are built is such a mystery to me. Through more research, I found that the reason why honey comb is composed of hexagons rather any other shapes, is firstly because the hexagon tiling minimize the total perimeter of the cells with the least wax within a given volume (proven by mathematician). In fact, in a three-dimensional viewpoint, the cells are also angled up about 13 degree from horizontal to prevent honey from dripping out. Thus, the shape of the cells is such that two opposing honeycomb layers nest into each other. Weird enough, the beauty of nature and mathematics seem to come into united manifestation through these bees' hard work. How wonderful!
Top three: pictures showing the perfect hexagonal geometry in a honeycomb; Bottom two: pictures showing Jason generously cutting honey cones to maximize our honey tasting experience.
Jason specifically talked about the role of each types of bees. An individual bee may not do much, but I'm really amazed by how a swarm of bees could behave so synchronized and organized in a group setting as if each one of them have their tasks perfectly encoded in their genes and performed out with very high efficiency. It is interesting nectar actually consists of 80% water and the rest is indigestible complex sugars and bees actually need to visit more than 1000 flowers to get their stomach full of nectar. The production of honey from nectar requires the worker bees to chew and process the nectar four times in their stomach for half an hour before enzymes break down complex sugar in nectar into simple sugar in honey syrup. In this sense, bees are indeed very hard-working and so much more highly efficient than us human!
Left: Honeybee collecting lavender nectar!!; Middle: house bees processing and storing honey in honeycomb; Right: Jason's jars of honey