Why honeycombs are hexagonal: shape features and why bees need them

Why honeycombs are hexagonal: shape features and why bees need them

Combs are cells in the hive that are created to store honey and feed young insects. These elements are arranged in a clear sequence. In bees, the architectural structure of the cells is laid down at the genetic level. They clearly know what components a honeycomb should include, and what form they can take. However, many people wonder why honeycombs are hexagonal.

What is a honeycomb

This term refers to wax cells that are designed to store nectar and transform it into honey. They also grow brood - young bees.The design consists of wax, which is produced with the secret of special glands. On average, bees spend about 10-15 milligrams of wax to create one item.

Why honeycombs are hexagonal

Bees make hexagonal honeycombs. This design provides the cells with high strength at low wall thickness and is a suitable storage system for honey. More honey is placed in hexagonal elements than in three- or four-sided ones, which are made from the same volume of wax.

However, the process of creating such cells is unique. According to studies conducted by Chinese and British scientists, bees initially make round combs and seal gaps at the joints with wax. They differ in triangular shape.

The process is further influenced by the body heat of the workers and the physical characteristics of the wax. At a temperature of +45 degrees, the mass turns into a viscous liquid, which begins to slowly drain.Under the influence of surface tension, the wax is squeezed out of the joints of the walls. As a result, they become flat. In this case, the honeycombs themselves acquire a hexagonal shape.

What are they for?

Beeswax cells are used to store honey and perga. Worker insects are also raised there. This type is often found in apiaries and hives, most of which are working individuals. There are 4-6 cells with a depth of 10-12 millimeters per 1 square centimeter of the hive. Before sealing the brood, the size is 20 millimeters. Then it increases to 25 millimeters.

During the cultivation of insects, the cell space is significantly reduced. This is due to the accumulation of remnants of cocoons. When insects notice that there is not enough space to store nectar, they build new cells.

Southern bees have small combs. The northern rocks are characterized by cells 2 times larger. To create one comb, bees spend 10-14 milligrams of wax. The main functions of this design include the following:

  • growing, feeding, keeping insects;
  • domain of workers;
  • storage of nectar and its transformation into honey.

Storage rules

This product is very useful. To preserve its valuable characteristics, it is important to provide the right conditions. Comb honey contains natural propolis, which is a natural preservative.

At the same time, the following factors negatively affect the shelf life:

  • high humidity - suitable parameters are no more than 60%;
  • exposure to direct sunlight - under the influence of ultraviolet radiation, honey is destroyed;
  • insects - comb honey is more affected by wax moth;
  • mold - it is very difficult to deal with it, because the product will have to be disposed of.

The hexagonal shape is considered the most economical. It is in such cells that the maximum amount of nectar is placed, which subsequently turns into honey.

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