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How do bees make honeycomb

What is Honeycomb?

By Honey Blog No Comments

Beyond its delicious taste and smooth texture honeycomb hold a fascinating story within its hexagonal structure. A prove to the genius of the bee society, this architectural marvel has intrigued beekeepers, scientist, and curious minds for centuries. Today we will explore the captivating worlds of honeycomb unravelling some of the mysteries.

What is Honeycomb

Honeycomb is a natural bee product that consist of waxy, hexagonal cells, full of raw honey. It is built by honey bees in the hive to store their honey and pollen. The honey and its comb are both edible and packed with nutritious, vitamins and antioxidants. Honeycomb also may contain small amounts of propolis and royal jelly. This are additional bee products with significant number of bioactive compounds.

Why are honeycombs hexagonal

The answer lies in mathematics. A hexagon has six sides, which makes it the most efficient shape for storing space within a given area. In other words, if you want to fit as many cells into your beehive as possible, you need to make them hexagons!

The term “honeycomb” is often used to describe both the structure itself and the wax made by bees to construct it. The structure consists of two types of cells: large, rectangular “storage” cells and smaller, circular “brood” cells. The storage cells are used to store honey and pollen while brood cells are used to raise young bees. Brood cells are usually populated with just one larva at a time. However, multiple larvae can be raised in larger storage cells if necessary for survival of the hive (e.g., during winter).

How do bees make honeycomb

The bees ability to make hexagonal cells is a marvel of nature. To understand how this happens, we need to look at how bees make wax and build their nests.

Bees produce wax from glands in their abdomen. The wax has two components: a waxy substance called cerumen (also known as bee venom) and a protein called plastron. The mixture is secreted as a liquid and then solidifies when it dries out. This process takes place in two separate glands. One produces cerumen, while the other produces plastron.

Cerumen is used to build honeycombs, while plastron makes a kind of sticky material that acts like glue when the bees build honeycombs. This gives the comb its strength and durability.

Bees construct a hexagonal shaped honeycomb using their bodies and wings as tools for measuring distances between each cell wall. Bees know exactly where to place each cell wall by using their body parts. Their eyes (retinae), antennae, legs and wings as measuring devices for distance measurements.

Honeycomb Cells

A single cell can only be constructed by one worker bee because it takes about 24 hours from start to finish. Drawing out wax from an existing cell using its abdomen (called “housecleaning”), forming the cell walls with her head (using her mandibles). Then capping off the cell with wax produced by her abdomen (called “building comb”).

In simpler words, when a bee returns to the hive with nectar or pollen, she deposits it in one of these cells. Then she fills up another cell with water by sticking her tongue into the cell that contains nectar or pollen, bringing it back out again covered with water droplets.

The Bee then uses this water to seal off the cell containing nectar or pollen while simultaneously sealing off another empty cell nearby with wax. So that there are two cells instead of one! She repeats this process until she has filled all of the cells in her section of comb with nectar or pollen and sealed them off with wax.

Benefits of honeycomb

Honeycomb is nutritional powerhouse, full of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The rich unprocessed honey stored within the hexagonal cells provides energy, aids digestion and supports the immune system. Additionally the wax cells of the honeycomb contain other beneficial properties such as propolis. A resinous substance with antimicrobial, antiviral, immune enhancing and oral health benefits.

How to use honeycomb

Honeycomb is as versatile as it gets. Honeycomb may be used as a topping for desserts, paired with cheese or perhaps the best one is to eat it as it is, so you can really enjoy the smooth, soft texture and feel the honey bursting in your mouth. It goes well alongside fruit, charcuterie, aged cheese, or just on top of a salad.

How to store honeycomb

Store in airtight container, and keep in cool and dry place, but not in the fridge. Honeycomb does not spoil as longest is protected from moisture.

Honeycomb is fascinating and unique product the honey bees produce. From its incredible hexagonal architecture to its many benefits honeycomb is true example to the perfection and complexity of the natural world.