Why do honeybees love hexagons? – Zack Patterson and Andy Peterson

Honeybees are fascinating creatures
for a number of reasons: their incredible work ethic, the sugary sweet syrup they produce and their intricate social structure. But another reason is
that honeybees are, in fact, excellent mathematicians. Scientists claim the tiny insects
can calculate angles, and can even comprehend
the roundness of the Earth. But there’s particular
mathematical bee genius behind the most important aspect
of honeybee life: the hive. Just like humans, bees need food
and shelter to stay alive. The hive is not only the bees’ home, but doubles as a place
to store their honey. Since it’s so central to survival, honeybees have to perfect
the hive’s architectural design. If you examine any piece of honeycomb, you’ll see that it’s constructed from tightly packed hexagonal,
or six-sided, cells. Of all the possible designs, why do honeybees choose this one? To understand, you need
to think like a bee. Bees need a secure place
for their entire colony to live. Similarly, there needs to be a place where their nectar can
be stored and ripened suitably until it turns into honey. That means there’s a need
for some serious space efficiency. A good solution is to build
little storage units, or cells, just big enough for a bee to fit into, which can also double as the containers
in which nectar is stored: The bees’ very own honey jars. The next thing, is to decide what
the little cells should be made out of. Bees don’t have beaks
or arms to pick up things, but they are capable of producing wax. The thing is, producing it
is a lot of hard work. Bees have to consume 8 ounces of honey to produce just 1 ounce of wax. So they don’t want to waste it. So, they need a design
that allows them to store the largest possible amount of honey using the least amount of wax. What shape does that? Imagining for a minute
that all bees had to attend architecture academy
and go to math class. Let’s say they asked
their geometry teacher, “What shape would give us
the most space to store our honey, but require the least amount of wax?” And then geometry teacher replied, “The shape that you’re seeking
is the circle.” Leaving the bees to return
to their trial construction site and begin building their honeycomb
using circular cells. After a while, some of them
might have noticed a problem with their design: small gaps between the cells. “We can’t even fit in there!
That’s wasted space!” they might have thought. So, ignoring the geometry lesson, and taking matters into their own hands, the bees went back to the drawing board to rethink their beehive design. One suggested triangles, “We can use triangles. Look!
They fit together perfectly.” Another bee suggested squares. Finally, a third bee piped up and said, “Pentagons don’t seem to work,
but hexagons do! We want the one that will use
the least amount of wax and be able to store
the most amount of honey. Yes, I think that’s the hexagon.” “Why?” “It looks more like the circle
than the others.” “But how do we know for sure?” To find out, the industrious
insect architects calculated the areas of the triangle,
the square and the hexagon and found that the hexagon was, in fact, the shape that gave them
the most storage space. They agreed on an ideal size
and returned to work. The space efficient comb that
is a bee’s trademark today, is probably the result
of this trial and error, but over long periods
of evolutionary history. However, it paid off. Peek into any hive — with your protective goggles
and netting on, of course — and you’ll see the end result:
a beautiful compact honeycomb that any architect would have
be proud to design.


  1. you're moron.learn some fundamental science.
    cells are round when raw and became hexagonal because of surface tension of the wax, shrinking when more solid

  2. Ugg, there was no discussion, that's how the wax forms itself when it is made…this is the first lesson that is depressingly bad.

  3. except bees aren't engineers. give Glory to God for his perfect creation, both in the design of the hive and the bee, and the instincts of the bee to perform it's purpose and use the hive.

  4. Bees are created by God. How bees do what they do was designed that way by our creator. When's the last time bees changed anything about how they make and store honey?

  5. I hate a story like this that did a lot of assumptions you assumed the B had trial and error why don't you say that I say the beat never had trial and error they always use that size you mislead people

  6. Good explanation..but everyone knows bees don't have schools and geometry classes…they were created and design to do this by the creater himself..watch this for FURTHUR explanation https://youtu.be/jsZv4Pk3NGY

  7. Life Cycle of honey bee.

  8. What about that this shape is the best to resist shakes from wind, earthquake etc. Since they build their house on trees, mountains and even caves.

  9. Bees start with hexigons and finish with hexigons. 1000's of assholes who never saw a bee before spreading religious psuedo science in the comments.

  10. All of this is based on symmetrical theorems and space trigonometry from University Pure Mathematics and Theoretical Mathematics.

  11. I would have rather they give us more information on the evolution of the bee and it's hive rather than using valuable seconds to pretend they all had a conversation and decided on hexagons

  12. Maybe someone who is more intelligent than me can explain how you create a bee from nothing. They evolved, indeed but from what. They must like every thing in existence have been made from something. Who made the something. Scientists explain matter but cannot explain what matter came from. Therefore science is floored it cannot go beyond the created. Steam is from water if we have no water? Who can create something from nothing.🙂

  13. Solid particles in the melted thick liquid takes up the hexagon shape. One can experiment it. Heat the oil in a pan. Do not over heat it. Now put some mustard seeds in to it. Now you can see that the seeds inside will take hexagon shapes. If you keep heating the oil, the hexagon will break and the mustard will start crackling.

  14. They don't love Hexagons. To understand why Hexagons are formed when Bee's build their nests, you must understand certain natural physical forces & certain mechanical properties of nature.

    When a malleable, typically spherical or cylindrical material is placed alongside each other, the shape starts to form that of a specific shape. Either instantly, or over time; Depending on a few different factors, including the density of the substance. It's not common in much denser materials, but can occur.

    A simple example can Bee used with soap bubbles. When you start placing more & more bubbles around each other, you'll start to see part of the bubbles take on that of a more Triangular shape or angle & then more of a Hexagonal shape on the inner edges of each bubble the more bubbles are added. If there's a center bubble, it will then Bee in the shape of Hexagon. If there is no center bubble, part of each bubble will start to develop an outline that would resemble a Hexagon.

    It is more to do with creating a stable force around the internal edges of each bubble at an angle around 120 degrees. The forces between each bubble is then balanced out & stable around each other. If you exert enough force or energy from one bubble to another, it will either merge the two or pop one of them.

    Bee's make cylindrical chambers used as a nursery for their larvae, to also create honey, as well as a food store. The chambers that are filled with warm, regurgitated fluids (aka Honey) can Bee described as the beginning stages for when it starts to take on the Hexagonal, Honeycomb shape. Over time, with temperature change, surface tension, opposing forces from the fluids influencing the Beeswax around it, it starts to take on the shape.

  15. I don't believe in slime plus time! Clearly evolutionary theory has jaw dropping, gaping holes in it. Bees know nothing of geometry and calculus…. evidence for creative-genius-intelligent design in the software download required for this amazing behavior is literally DRIPPING from this "natural phenomena. "

  16. This is totally wrong. Bees make round cells and the surface tension of the warm wax pulls it into the hexagonal shape.

  17. I got a dream that one man is explaining me about hexagon and love related to it and other emotions from a hexagon diagram , Any one here like me ?

  18. actually honeybees DO make rounded cells in their home, but with the heat from the busy bees, the wax honeycombs melt into the hexagonal shape 🙂

  19. We report that the cells in a natural honeybee comb have a circular shape at ‘birth’ but quickly transform into the familiar rounded hexagonal shape, while the comb is being built. The mechanism for this transformation is the flow of molten visco-elastic wax near the triple junction between the neighbouring circular cells. The flow may be unconstrained or constrained by the unmolten wax away from the junction. The heat for melting the wax is provided by the ‘hot’ worker bees.

  20. Praise JESUS for his creation. Pretty cool. Bees have always done hexagons… they didn't "agree" or "figure" this out. God wired them that way from the very beginning.

  21. Not quite true.
    Turns out, bees make round wax cells at first. Then, the wax is soften by heat and turned into stable hexagon shape.

  22. Nah I don't believe this. You said they ignored geometry lesson and took the matters in their own hands? That's BS. I can't even pass basic geometry lesson, and they're just beez.

  23. That's funny, I saw a PBS short that the make circle and it melts into hexagons. I need to see some papers about the subject

  24. Actually, bees build circles and then because of the body heat and other heat, the wax melts and flows to the wasted space, turning into a hexagon. Sorry if my information is misleading. Oh, and why would a bee go to geometry class?

  25. Whether they or Mother Nature created the shape, they are still incredible creatures, hard working, gentle and beautiful, unfortunately we steal their honey and their wax and put them to work for us while destroying their habitats 🌸🐝 shame

  26. This is 100% wrong. Bees make round cells and then the surface tension of the warm wax pulls it into hexagons. It's physics not biology.

  27. Makes sense, but how does one generation of bees know to build hexagons? Is it sort of genetic knowledge?
    I get that they know WHY, but without trial and error (or doing mathematical calculations), how does each subsequent swarm know to base their designs on hexagons?

  28. But the question remains, how do they get it perfect every time? Or do they build circles and let the weight pressure shape the cells into hexes? What about wasps? They dont produce wax do they? How did they decide on the hex shape? Plethora of questions, i know, but any answer is appreciated.

  29. I heard that the bee actually made circle wax then over time the circle combine with each other and makes hexagon. Just like bubble.

  30. Solving for the maximum volume with the least amount of surface area is a calculus problem. Semester one. The answer is a cylinder with the height twice the diameter. Go measure some tin cans and see for yourselves.
    I'm a beekeeper/mechanical engineer.

  31. Actually the bees make the wax into circles then the heat from the wings of the bee will kinda melt/mold it into hexagons because the circles are all around it and it’s very space worthy so it stops wasted space ;-;

  32. This is an often repeated myth. Bees construct round tubes that dry into hexagon.


  33. It's true that it's the most effective shape, but it's not true that the bees create hexagons. The circuar wax turns into hexagon under pressure from the neiboring cells. Not because of math but physics 😉

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