A honeycomb is a built of the honey bees from beeswax honeycomb structure with hexagonal cells. They are used for rearing larvae and storage of honey and pollen. The wax of the honeycomb produce bees with the wax glands of her body.

In beekeeping is a honeycomb ( honey, pollen or brood comb ) a movable wooden frames from a loot meant in which the bees have built the actual honeycomb. These additional frames honeycomb can be removed from the hive and also added again, for example to harvest honey without causing the alveolar structure is destroyed. Without frames created honeycomb, for example, by a swarm of bees, wild or Naturbau be called.

Wax production

A wax plate weighs about 0.8 milligrams, so that about 1.25 million platelets are required for one kilogram of beeswax. For the wax production, the bees like grapes hang together. From the wax glands on the posterior ventral scales they sweat the wax out as thin platelets. Wax but is produced only in the spring from April to July, with a good nectar supply prevails. Then several honeycomb can occur within a week. Basically, bees are able to build all their combs themselves. This is most evident in the swarm of bees when he sits down in a safe place and built in a very short time honeycomb.

Alveolar structure

The natural tendency of the bees for comb building is called Bautrieb. He is most pronounced when bees swarm, the need to create a new home within the shortest time for their survival.

The honeycombs are for the colony first birth and habitat. In the cells of the bees grow, which are initially stored by the Queen as an egg. During the breeding with feeding by the worker bees arises from the egg a larva, which eventually turns into the provided with a wax cover cell in a doll until after 21 days (when working bee) slips the finished insect from the cell.

In addition, honeycombs are also production facility and storage space for honey and pollen. They are also fixed telephone network (vibration communication over the cell edges of the honeycomb ), information storage, States Flag ( chemical labeling with different messages ) and first line of defense against pathogens ( by antimicrobial effect ).

Naturally, there started the above alveolar structure of wax from a first position pentagonal ceiling cells, which then down the construction of similarly shaped hexagonal cells follows. Are built side by side continuous honeycomb having a pitch ( center of the honeycomb to the honeycomb in the middle) of 35 mm. The free space between the vertical honeycomb corresponds approximately to the distance bees, just one centimeter.

A relatively new opinion is that the bees do not directly hexagonal honeycomb build, but as a template for normal cells (for the brood of workers ) use their own body. These cells are first round, which has been described already in 1792 by the Swiss bee researcher Francois Huber. Then arises only by heating the wax to just under 40 ° C, the hexagonal shape. Are responsible for this so-called transition temperatures of beeswax at 25 ° C and 40 ° C, featuring a transition region of the molecular arrangement between crystalline and amorphous, and the physical effect of the surface tension of liquids. This leads to an interfacial absolutely flat structure with a constant wall thickness. As an example of this effect, the interface between two adjoining bubbles is often cited. The discovered on the honeybees mechanism of self-organization absolutely perfect hexagons has been reflected in a technical patent for the production of regular hexagonal structures. Rounded are in honeycombs then only the cell edges, which are thickened to stabilize the honeycomb of the bee. This also is used propolis.

The regularity of the cells in honeycomb reminiscent of crystals, the Johannes Kepler led to suspect bees have a mathematical mind. The geometry of the honeycomb has been explained by the fact that the hexagonal cell line form - occurring in nature even in molecules and crystals - is the most economical. Here, the maximum capacity and maximum enclosed area with the highest stability is guaranteed with the minimal cost of materials. While this is mathematically proved, however, no compelling explanation for why bees choose this form of the construction of the honeycomb ( instinctively ).

Cell types

The cell types of drones cell ( 6.9 mm diameter, depth 14 mm ), a distinction between the working cell ( 5.3 mm diameter, depth 10-12 mm), and the much larger, free -built queen cell ( depth up to 25 mm) for creation of a queen bee.

In the apiary beekeeper speeds up the process of the honeycomb construction with the gift of prefabricated about a millimeter thick Bee wax sheets ( center panels ) in the hive. On the both sides of prefabricated hexagon embossed with worker cells or drone cells the bee then builds their honeycombs. The bees pull the material out to the outside, thus saving time and material at their own honeycomb production.

In the natural comb building bees on a honeycomb manufacture workers and drone cells. As created by the bees, natural comb building is more complex, the beekeeper takes a regulatory manner by the administration of funds walls. The drone cells allows the beekeeper but mostly by the bees build as free Wildbau by mounts one or two empty frames in the hive.

Honeycomb surface - Honey quantity

  • Workers cells have a volume of 0.3 ml and each hold 0.4 g of honey in the density 1.4 g / ml
  • To 1 dm ² of a honeycomb are per side 415-425 worker cells ( or 255 drone cells )
  • Accordingly contain 3 dm ² - filled both sides with honey - 1 kg of honey

Nest Rules

In each colony there is for the use of the honeycomb construction of an order. In the middle is the area of the brood nest, where to stay and where most bees mainly carried the rearing of young bees. In the honeycomb cells adjacent to and below the brood nest pollen is stored and located above the brood, the honey stores. This nest order arises through a self -organized process.