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Question about honeycombs

  1. Aug 29, 2011 #1
    How do bees know how to build honeycombs ?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 29, 2011 #2

    Ryan_m_b

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    Staff: Mentor

    Worker bees have glands that synthesise and secrete wax, when they need to build honeycombs they eat large quantities of honey and use this to make wax. They then begin to lay it in the hexagonal patterns we see.
     
  4. Aug 29, 2011 #3
    Thank you very much for that.
    How do bees know how to make a honeycomb or polyps to make coral or other such things ?
     
  5. Aug 30, 2011 #4

    Ryan_m_b

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    Largely it is instinctive knowledge. Many animals such as insects, birds etc exhibit the same classic behaviours as the rest of their species even when they are separated at or before birth.
     
  6. Aug 30, 2011 #5
    How also do termites know how to build marvelous clay cathederals?

    They and the bees and the polyps in fact do not know. The structures emerge naturally as a consequence of non-linear dynamics. Find, "Self-Organization in Biological Systems". Good book to learn about emergence in biology.

    Also, would help if you know differential equations. Hey, sorry, I don't make the rules.
     
  7. Aug 30, 2011 #6
    Thank you both for writing back.
    I wonder if a bee, termite, or polyp would try to build something if they were alone.
     
  8. Sep 2, 2011 #7
    If a bee or termite were alone in a terrarium with the materials they needed to build a honeycomb or cathedral, would they build, or try to build one ?
     
  9. Sep 2, 2011 #8

    Ryan_m_b

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    It really depends on not only what species you are talking about but what type of organism. A Queen bee isolated in an environment would behave different to a worker ant. I'm not aware of any specific examples but I would imagine that any worker cast would try to find their way back to the hive/colony and anything like a queen would try to set up a new hive/colony.
     
  10. Sep 2, 2011 #9
    Many of the complicated structures we see in Nature are a consequence of dynamics and are not due to any active role of the participants in designing them. In the case of termites, the mound emerges as a consequence of interactions between the termites, the phermones they release, and the mud the carry into the construction site. They don't realize what they're building. That's what emergence is all about: something emerges as a consequence of complicated interactions between the parts that cannot be deduces by studying the individual parts. So no, I do not believe isolated termites could build much of anything although I'll give him credit for slapping some mud together hap-hazardly. In my opinion, emergence is one key in understanding the nature of biology on earth. Another book to try is "At Home in the Universe" by Stuart Kaufman.
     
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