Honeybee combs: how the circular cells transform into rounded hexagons

B. L. Karihaloo, K. Zhang, J. Wang


We report that the cells in a natural honeybee comb have a circular shape at ‘birth’ but quickly transform into the familiar rounded hexagonal shape, while the comb is being built. The mechanism for this transformation is the flow of molten visco-elastic wax near the triple junction between the neighbouring circular cells. The flow may be unconstrained or constrained by the unmolten wax away from the junction. The heat for melting the wax is provided by the ‘hot’ worker bees.

  • Received April 2, 2013.
  • Accepted June 24, 2013.
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