PATTERNS OF POLLINATION | BEE PATTERN PICKS
“Bees offer something for everyone” says Jane Mosley of the British Bee Keepers Association. Being a beekeeper or a lover bees allows gardeners to be more in tune with the seasons, offers psychologists and scientists understanding of social behaviour patterns and systems, and engineers insight into some of the best builders in the world. PATTERNITY takes a look at just some of the many fascinating patterns of bees and the things that they can teach us….
Honey Comb Hexagons
One of the most famous patterns of bees- the honeycomb. Made up of hexagons each measuring ‘one bee space’, honeycomb is one of the first examples of such structure in nature, which has since been copied in many engineering and manufacturing contexts. The hexagon shape allows for maximum strength with minimal use of material, showing the ingenuity of bees as builders.
The Waggle Dance
Photo: Paul Woodward
Bees use many different patterns of communication- through sound waves (buzzing) and movement. The most famous is the Waggle Dance, used by foraging bees to direct the drones in the direction of nectar. A figure of eight movement is used, showing the angle and distance of the food. This method is particularly innovative as most of the hive is in darkness.
Pollen Rake Spikes
The anatomy of bees kits them out with the tools needed to carry out their important tasks. Pollen rakes form part of their legs, allowing them to scrape together the pollen from the opposite leg, ready to be stored.
Bee’s famous black and yellow stripes are used to warn predators of their potent sting. The alternate black and yellow allows for maximum contrast. Often the bee’s bodies are black, and fine minute hairs create the yellow banding.
Exhibited by many animals in the natural world, bees use swarm techniques to travel. This emergent behaviour allows the bees to fly as one super-organism. They communicate and collaborate to find information about new nesting sites, and once they have decided on a space, will use the swarm behaviour to move as a unit.
To support our honeybees and to learn more about ways in which we as individuals can encourage their numbers, become a Friend of the Honeybee, and receive bee-friendly seeds and garden guides.