Honey bees need a good residence to flourish and they never bear any offensive conduct. If you are new to the...
How Bees Build Comb?
We all know that honey bees produce honey. But, do we know that they also produce beeswax and build comb. Honeycomb has the most pleasing structure constructed by bees, the hexagonal cells. The orderly pattern of the comb is a symbol of structure, order, usefulness, and power. Hexagon is a useful shape; the six-sided shape fits together perfectly.
But why hexagon, why not triangle or square?
This pattern has not happened by accident. Honey bees have built the home that serves them extremely well. Let’s look at the reason:
The Making of Beeswax
Beeswax is the material used to make the honeycomb. Honey bee eats honey for around two tablespoons to make one ounce of wax. Worker bees have 8 pairs of wax glands below their stomach. These glands make flat wax up to 3mm long and 0.5mm deep. When the worker bees make comb, they scrap a wax scale from her stomach using the bristles on their pollen basket and pass them to her front leg. The worker bees then mix this scale with their saliva by chewing with jawbones. This regulates the softness of the wax, which makes it suitable to build the cells of the comb.
Nectar, Honey, Pollen and Brood
The main reason to build a comb is to get a place to create and store honey. Honey is a vital resource for the bee, especially in the winter season. During this cold weather, bees are incapable to travel away from the hive to collect nectar and pollen. So, they are dependent on their honey reserve, which they build up in their hive.
Bees create honey in two phases
· Nectar foraged from the flower is positioned in cells and left opened. Bees keep on fanning the cells with their wings to reduce the water level of the nectar by passing air.
• When the water level reaches certain point, bees will cap the honey with a thin layer of wax, making sure the honey is stored in the cell. Capped honey is identifiable by a white seal over each cell.
Bees that collect nectar from flowers do not deposit it into cells. Nectar is received by the receiving bee and leaves it to a suitable part of the hive for handling before placing it in the cell. Nectar is deposited in honeycomb, dehydrated and made into honey.
Pollen comes from pollen-bearing plants or bushes and acts as a protein and fat for the bee. A bee carrying pollen will not pass it to any other bee; instead, they will store it herself.
When we look at the comb, the steadiness of the pattern and design made by cells is very plain. The cell built for each caste differ –
· Worker Cells: The majority of the cells of brood are intended to raise female worker bees. They are the smallest of all three castes.
· Drone Cells: Drones are larger as related to worker bees. So, their cells are also large. The cap of drone cells is more rounded than that of worker cells.
· Queen Cells: These cells are of different shape and size and are called queen cups. Queen cells look like peanut hanging from the comb.
Building honeycomb needs a lot of energy and drives to produce wax and shape the comb. Honey bees build comb only when they need it.
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