Saturday, February 20, 2010

Bee Hives as Architecture


Thanks to the internet, I found the following: A beekeeper in the United Kingdom (I can't figure out where he's located) put a glass bell jar on top of one of his hives in the hopes that the bees would build in it.

What resulted was a beautiful example of the architecture of insects.

Click here for his descriptions of the project.

The beekeeper attached embossed wax "foundation"on the inside of the jar. An old t-shirt was wrapped around the jar, because bees naturally live in total darkness. A hole was drilled in the top of the jar, to prevent buildup of condensation. (How anyone could drill through that knob of glass without shattering everything seems pretty impressive.)

The bees get to work, "drawing out" comb. Bees produce wax from glands on the undersides of their bodies. The bees then manipulate the wax, and create the structure of the comb.

This is a week's progress.

A look at the construction, from the bottom of the jar. The residue along the edge of the jar is probably propolis, which is a sticky substance the bees collect from plants. The bees use this as a sort of caulk or glue, to hold their hives together.

Here's the finished project.

Gross-Out Warning: As you can see, one bee died, and was entombed in the comb. I find this interesting, because the hive actually recruits some of its members to be what beekeepers call "mortician bees." The bees take any dead bees (or dead hive-invaders) outside of the hive. If a larger, un-drag-out-able animal (like a mouse) dies inside the hive, the bees will encapsulate the corpse in propolis, which mummifies the body, and prevents putrefaction inside the hive.


Ryan said...

Gosh, if that doesn't make a bee feel claustrophobic....

-- Ryan

2007 said...

Oh the marvelous things we see and learn on Lisa's blog! Amazing!


Anonymous said...

Very cool! I suppose that if you get a big dead thing inside your walls, you could ask your hive to create some propolis for you- eh?


Eliza said...

Thank you so much for sharing this! I'm tempted to try something similar, now.

John and Diane said...

Amazing and beautiful.

Susan Kuchinskas said...

What a cool and weird thing! I love it.


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