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The Bee Buzz

We all must have come across a beehive hanging on a building, tree or a rock. Even the smallest sight of it must have immediately triggered a sense of fear of getting stung, followed by generation of innumerable ideas on how to remove it from our vicinity. But have you ever wondered how these complex structures are constructed and inhabited by such tiny creatures, which by the virtue of naturally inherited wisdom and construction technique showcase an exemplary unique architecture and an immensely resourceful habitat.

The first step is the site visit by the worker bees that flies out to look for a suitable location for their new home. After the site is finalized the next step is the collection of construction materials (pollen & nectar from various flowers). The nectar forms the honey, which then produces wax. Creating beeswax is a very laborious task, hence the bees make sure that they aren’t wasting any resource and that becomes the secret to the geometry of the structure that is not only strong enough as well as very efficient (maximum space, least amount of resources).

The construction begins by forming densely packed group of hexagonal tubes made of beeswax, called the honeycomb structure. The equally sided perfect hexagons ensures that each cell fits in perfectly with each other leaving no empty space between and enables the worker bees to work on collectively & simultaneously without waiting for their individual turns to build a cell & wasting precious time (since time is honey for them). The whole structure is inclined at 9 to 14 degrees to ensure that the honey does not leak out. When the bees crowd together within the hive, it remains at temperature around 30 to 35 degree Celsius for comfortable living and controlling the texture of the wax

One of the interesting sites chosen by the bees (the religious ones) includes the very famous Notre Dame, Paris where a hive took place on the roof of its Sacristy. The Church authority like many others in Paris resorted to accommodate and preserve it as Paris is growing as world’s leading urban bee Capital.

The story doesn’t end there, as our cities are urbanizing, so are they. The urbanized bees (modern ones) of 21st century have come up as helpers maintaining green roofs in trend in the big cities, where the green building ratings are in hike. In Manhattan, for example, the 2 rooftop hives atop the Bank of America tower, a 51 storey glass skyscraper, houses a 6,000 Sqft green roof, a critical element of its LEED Platinum rating- the highest possible-is sustained in part by 1,00,000 honey bees in them.