# Thread: Do you know why bees form hexagon shaped cells?

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## Do you know why bees form hexagon shaped cells?

Looking through one cell of a foundation... from one side you see an inverted Y ...looking through the other side you see a normal Y.
It has been said that the inverted side always faces the center of the hive in a naturally formed comb without a starting foundation.
Is this true? And is it true that in a bee made comb you see the same inverted and normal Y?

2. snl
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## Re: Do you know why bees form hexagon shaped cells?

Not sure of the answer. BUT if you take drops or water, nectar or whatever which form basically 0's and you place them all around each other, then push them together...............you could get a hexagon.....

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## Re: Do you know why bees form hexagon shaped cells?

"The hexagonal shape of cells is common among cell-building social insects, and there is a sound architectural reason for this style. Round, octagonal, or pentagonal cell arrangements leave empty spaces between cells, and triangles or squares have a greater circumference than hexagons. Thus, the greatest number of cells per area can be arranged in comb using the hexagonal shape." (Winston, 1987). And yes, on natural comb they stagger the construction back to back, so you get the two Ys.

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## Re: Do you know why bees form hexagon shaped cells?

There are two possible explanations for the reason that honeycomb is composed of hexagons, rather than any other shape. One, given by Jan Brożek and proved much later by Thomas Hales, is that the hexagon tiles the plane with minimal surface area. Thus, a hexagonal structure uses the least material to create a lattice of cells within a given volume. Another, given by D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson, is that the shape simply results from the process of individual bees putting cells together: somewhat analogous to the boundary shapes created in a field of soap bubbles. In support of this, he notes that queen cells, which are constructed singly, are irregular and lumpy with no apparent attempt at efficiency

5. snl
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## Re: Do you know why bees form hexagon shaped cells?

Originally Posted by AChabot
"The hexagonal shape of cells is common among cell-building social insects, and there is a sound architectural reason for this style.
What do bees know about sound architectural reason?

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## Re: Do you know why bees form hexagon shaped cells?

Originally Posted by snl
What do bees know about sound architectural reason?
It is apparent that they know that ....
Originally Posted by AChabot
"Thus, the greatest number of cells per area can be arranged in comb using the hexagonal shape." (Winston, 1987).
This would also mean that they are using their wax resources in the most efficient manner. And in the long term, organisms using their available resources most efficiently may out-compete similar organisms that don't use their resources as efficiently.

Just my opinion, of course. No links to back this up today.
Last edited by Rader Sidetrack; 11-30-2012 at 04:25 PM. Reason: typo

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## Re: Do you know why bees form hexagon shaped cells?

Maybe they just didn't know any better.
But just think how much it has helped us design some things the light and strong.
Nah! Just dumb bugs!

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## Re: Do you know why bees form hexagon shaped cells?

This would also mean that they are using their wax resources in the most efficient manner
I have a couple of Hives that need to be reminded of this!

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## Re: Do you know why bees form hexagon shaped cells?

Open a box of straws and you will see the same thing. They aren't really hexagonal they are cylinders. Ever follow a truck load of pipe down the road? Same pattern.

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## Re: Do you know why bees form hexagon shaped cells?

Originally Posted by sqkcrk
Open a box of straws and you will see the same thing. They aren't really hexagonal they are cylinders. Ever follow a truck load of pipe down the road? Same pattern.
Why doesn't man make pipes and straws hexagonal?

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## Re: Do you know why bees form hexagon shaped cells?

u funny.

Clay tiles, which used to be used for drain pipe back in the olden days were hexagonal, on the outside.

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## Re: Do you know why bees form hexagon shaped cells?

Originally Posted by snl
Not sure of the answer. BUT if you take drops or water, nectar or whatever which form basically 0's and you place them all around each other, then push them together...............you could get a hexagon.....
This, absolutely. Bees do NOT make hexagonal cells, it a process called tessellation. Consider soap bubbles piling up against each other, they will form sides where they meet and this will determine the shape of each soap bubble. Bee cells are round, look at one without considering the sides where they butt up against each other- round as Nature gets. The placement of the "y" might have more to do with the bottom of the cell as it relates to the other side of the comb, the bubble bottom of one side of the cell fitting in the hollow on the other side of the comb in a staggered formation. Looking at a cross-section of comb could possibly show this. It's more about economy of space and careful use of resources than creating pretty 6-sided cells. And tessellation.

Tyson

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## Re: Do you know why bees form hexagon shaped cells?

Originally Posted by Tyson Kaiser
This, absolutely. Bees do NOT make hexagonal cells, it a process called tessellation. Consider soap bubbles piling up against each other, they will form sides where they meet and this will determine the shape of each soap bubble. Bee cells are round, look at one without considering the sides where they butt up against each other- round as Nature gets. The placement of the "y" might have more to do with the bottom of the cell as it relates to the other side of the comb, the bubble bottom of one side of the cell fitting in the hollow on the other side of the comb in a staggered formation. Looking at a cross-section of comb could possibly show this. It's more about economy of space and careful use of resources than creating pretty 6-sided cells. And tessellation.

Tyson
Economic use of space and structurally strong.

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## Re: Do you know why bees form hexagon shaped cells?

I suspect the bees make them hexagonal because anything else would use more wax for less cell space. Pretty much happens by itself as the wax is quite soft when made, and the bees pushing, pulling, and otherwise working the wax will make hexagons out of rows of cells.

Queen cells and drone cells between frames are more round, but they also don't have six cells around them -- bet they'd be hexagonal if that was the case.

I've read somewhere that the bees actually don't make the cells hexagonal at all, they make them round with common walls, and the wax "flows" into a hexagon. Could be. The top is always round at any rate.

Peter

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## Re: Do you know why bees form hexagon shaped cells?

Peter, they appear hexagonal, but are cylindrical. Otherwise, wouldn't we have hexagonal shaped bees instead of round ones?

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## Re: Do you know why bees form hexagon shaped cells?

Originally Posted by psfred
I suspect the bees make them hexagonal because anything else would use more wax for less cell space. Pretty much happens by itself as the wax is quite soft when made, and the bees pushing, pulling, and otherwise working the wax will make hexagons out of rows of cells.
I think they make hexagonal cells because they know. I don't think there is any morphing going on.

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## Re: Do you know why bees form hexagon shaped cells?

I read something like this recently, don't remember where. It stated the bees made the cells more round but they become flat where they meat each other. Since the wax isn't really fluid I don't know if its correct.

Originally Posted by Tyson Kaiser
This, absolutely. Bees do NOT make hexagonal cells, it a process called tessellation. Consider soap bubbles piling up against each other, they will form sides where they meet and this will determine the shape of each soap bubble. Bee cells are round, look at one without considering the sides where they butt up against each other- round as Nature gets. The placement of the "y" might have more to do with the bottom of the cell as it relates to the other side of the comb, the bubble bottom of one side of the cell fitting in the hollow on the other side of the comb in a staggered formation. Looking at a cross-section of comb could possibly show this. It's more about economy of space and careful use of resources than creating pretty 6-sided cells. And tessellation.

Tyson

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## Re: Do you know why bees form hexagon shaped cells?

A time lapse camera could solve all the guess work.

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## Re: Do you know why bees form hexagon shaped cells?

If is true about the Y shape at the bottom of the cell....and it is... the bees started the cell in a hex shape....not round and then pushed together...unless they start with a hex...then make it round...then push it together...think they are lot smarter than that.

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## Re: Do you know why bees form hexagon shaped cells?

Why a hexagon? Because bees can't count to 7.