Bees making artistic honeycombs

Bees, always so surprising. They are known for their hard work. Also to be supportive and disciplined like an army. Thanks to the pollination they allow, they are one of the most influential beings in the world’s ecosystem. But there is something else, another amazing ability. We are talking about the bees that make artistic combs Tetragonula carbonaria.

The bees that form artistic honeycombs, the Tetragula Carbonaria, create beauty out of chaos.
The bees that form artistic honeycombs, the Tetragula Carbonaria, create beauty out of chaos.

Lives in Australia. It’s a peculiar bee: she doesn’t have a sting and doesn’t work in a team. But his independent work produces the most artistic and complex combs found in nature. A group of researchers from the Andalusian Institute of Earth Sciences (IACT) studied them. The graduation is a surprise. Each bee goes to the last cell built and adds its own cell at its own risk. Bees that make artistic combs use a method that promises chaos. But the result is of great beauty and harmony.

Bruno Escribano is a researcher at IACT and one of the six authors of the study. “It was always thought that there was a common thread. For example, the queen bee, who gave the workers instructions on how to build the honeycomb. “This is not the case with these bees. They do not coordinate with the rest of the colony members. “Each animal decides where to build the next cell based on local rules.” That is, the decision-making after the analysis that each individual makes of the situation.

“The honeycombs of Tetragonula carbonaria They present surprising patterns. Spirals, double spirals or the shape of a target, ”explains Escribano. The conclusions of this study were published in Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

The researchers developed a mathematical model. Explain how bees get these patterns without planning or coordination. They discovered a “minimal complexity” model that allows anyone to work with the information that they most closely extract. With these minimal data, each worker independently contributes to the growth of the honeycomb. “These bees coordinate their actions by changing the environment. You don’t need a master plan. You don’t even have to communicate, ”they emphasize. By changing your environment locally, self-organization comes from almost nothing. “Structures are created through simple accumulated actions,” says Escribano.

This particular bee doesn
This particular bee doesn’t work on a team or has a stinger.

Escribano explains that the origin of this study lies in a casual chat. “One biologist said that there were some bees that built honeycombs with a very strange shape. One physicist stated that very similar patterns occurred in previous work with crystals. And we decided to work from these two premises. “The result of this talk is current research. They simplified a mathematical model that can be used to generate all of the patterns observed in the ridges. It is a very similar pattern to crystal growth. “Despite the fact that the two systems are very different, the same patterns arise as a result of the same rules of self-organization.”

The recent discoveries in terms of spotting bees and bumblebees are amazing. The scientists explain, “We know that bumblebees learn by watching others. The behavior of bees is influenced by their emotional states. You can even deal with concepts like “same” and “different”. There is also evidence of intelligence in building their combs. They solve the occasional construction problem in a flexible way, which suggests they aren’t just acting instinctively. And they have a set of “rigid, simple, and innate” behaviors that enable the hive to function. “In colonies of bees, these innate behaviors allow a phenomenon called stigmergy. Complex creations can arise from the simple actions of many individuals. Even without having to have a general plan ”.

Mathematics rules nature. And in nature there is also room for art. And if not, just check out these beautiful honeycombs.

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