The story of a single cell within a beehive

The creation of a cell

Why hexagonal cells?

Repeated so many times within each hive, the creation of a single cell is a small part of the structure on which bees live their lives. As beekeepers, we enjoy the beauty of honeycomb, particularly how it can store so much honey! But there are many uses to which comb is put by our bees. But what is it about the shape of the cell that is so valuable and offers so much utility to bees?

Each cell forms the iconic hexagonal shape we all know. It’s no accident that the use of a connected series of cells is so often used in industry, both in terms of the physical makeup of products we use but also as a central element in many logos. To us, the cell represents stability and strength, which are positive characteristics many businesses wish to relay.

Why is this? The answer is simple – because it provides strength in nature too and the example of honeycomb in hives is the most obvious example. There are a number of reasons for this.

  • Strength : Mathematicians and designers have been curious about the relative strength of three-dimensional structures for centuries. It turns out the hexagonal is one of the strongest and rigid of shapes that can be constructed.
  • Efficiency of Space : Not all shapes can be neatly laid side-by-side, without costly gaps. Placing many circles next to each other would obviously leave gaps. Although not unique, the hexagonal shape of the cell means comb can be extended in any direction with no gaps at all, resulting in a highly effective use of space.
  • Efficiency of Effort : The production of comb is a very costly process to our bees. For a given unit of raw material (wax), the hexagonal cell provides a great deal of utility.

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