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  • Honeybees are fascinating creatures for a number of reasons:

  • their incredible work ethic,

  • the sugary sweet syrup they produce

  • and their intricate social structure.

  • But another reason is that honeybees are, in fact,

  • excellent mathematicians.

  • Scientists claim the tiny insects can calculate angles,

  • and can even comprehend the roundness of the Earth.

  • But there's particular mathematical bee genius

  • behind the most important aspect of honeybee life: the hive.

  • Just like humans, bees need food and shelter to stay alive.

  • The hive is not only the bees' home,

  • but doubles as a place to store their honey.

  • Since it's so central to survival,

  • honeybees have to perfect the hive's architectural design.

  • If you examine any piece of honeycomb,

  • you'll see that it's constructed from

  • tightly packed hexagonal, or six-sided, cells.

  • Of all the possible designs,

  • why do honeybees choose this one?

  • To understand, you need to think like a bee.

  • Bees need a secure place for their entire colony to live.

  • Similarly, there needs to be a place

  • where their nectar can be stored and ripened suitably

  • until it turns into honey.

  • That means there's a need for some serious space efficiency.

  • A good solution is to build little storage units, or cells,

  • just big enough for a bee to fit into,

  • which can also double as the containers in which nectar is stored:

  • The bees' very own honey jars.

  • The next thing, is to decide what the little cells should be made out of.

  • Bees don't have beaks or arms to pick up things,

  • but they are capable of producing wax.

  • The thing is, producing it is a lot of hard work.

  • Bees have to consume 8 ounces of honey

  • to produce just 1 ounce of wax.

  • So they don't want to waste it.

  • So, they need a design that allows them to store

  • the largest possible amount of honey

  • using the least amount of wax.

  • What shape does that?

  • Imagining for a minute that all bees had to

  • attend architecture academy and go to math class.

  • Let's say they asked their geometry teacher,

  • "What shape would give us the most space to store our honey,

  • but require the least amount of wax?"

  • And then geometry teacher replied,

  • "The shape that you're seeking is the circle."

  • Leaving the bees to return to their trial constrution site

  • and begin building their honeycomb using circular cells.

  • After a while, some of them might have noticed

  • a problem with their design:

  • small gaps between the cells.

  • "We can't even fit in there!

  • That's wasted space!" they might have thought.

  • So, ignoring the geometry lesson,

  • and taking matters into their own hands,

  • the bees went back to the drawing board

  • to rethink their beehive design.

  • One suggested triangles,

  • "We can use triangles. Look! They fit together perfectly."

  • Another bee suggested squares.

  • Finally, a third bee piped up and said,

  • "Pentagons don't seem to work, but hexagons do!

  • We want the one that will use the least amount of wax

  • and be able to store the most amount of honey.

  • Yes, I think that's the hexagon."

  • "Why?"

  • "It looks more like the circle than the others."

  • "But how do we know for sure?"

  • To find out, the industrious insect architects

  • calculated the areas of the triangle, the square and the hexagon

  • and found that the hexagon was, in fact,

  • the shape that gave them the most storage space.

  • They agreed on an ideal size and returned to work.

  • The space efficient comb that is a bee's trademark today,

  • is probably the result of this trial and error,

  • but over long periods of evolutionary history.

  • However, it paid off.

  • Peek into any hive --

  • with your protective goggles and netting on, of course --

  • and you'll see the end result: a beautiful compact honeycomb

  • that any architect would have be proud to design.

Honeybees are fascinating creatures for a number of reasons:

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【TED-Ed】Why do honeybees love hexagons? - Zack Patterson and Andy Peterson

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    朱安強   に公開 2014 年 07 月 01 日
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