1. The navigational skills of a honey bee
We are all familiar with the satellite navigation systems found in modern cars and smartphones. It’s modern technology that we program in a location and get given directions and distances until we reach our final destination. Yet the humble foraging honey bee does all this many times every single day in its daily quest to find the perfect flower to tap for nectar and pollen.
But if that wasn’t miraculous enough, a bee can pass on the exact location of the perfect flower to its colleagues, so they can share in the bounty. Its secret is not using circuit boards and processors it’s the angle of the sun, counting landmarks and electrical fields.
So suggesting that a bee could be as smart as your modern satellite navigation system is not as daft as it may seem.
3. A bee's day in numbers
4. Why bees make honey
We might naively think that bees make honey for us to spread on our toast in the morning or soothe a sore throat; this is of course not the case. While it’s true we do enjoy the benefits of bees’ honey, they make it for an altogether more important reason: to feed the colony over winter.
They make it from all the sweet sticky nectar collected from flowers after long and complicated foraging trips. This nectar is then mixed with enzymes from glands in the mouth and stored in hexagonal wax honeycombs. Once the water content has reached around 17% the cell is sealed with wax until the bees need it.
A strong hive in a good season could produce two to three times what they actually need; it is this surplus that gets collected, so the bees don’t actually miss it at all! The type of honey made depends on the species of flower the nectar was collected from: oil seed rape makes a very hard honey, whereas garden flowers make a more runny honey.
5. The secret of the honeycomb structure
Marcus du Sautoy explains why bees choose to use a hexagon to build their honeycomb structure rather than the triangle or the square.
Clip taken from The Code first broadcast in 2011.
6. How far do bees travel?
How many miles do you think a colony of bees have to fly in order to make one jar of honey?