THE HONEY BEE
"And your Lord taught the honey bee ...."
"And your Lord taught the honey bee to build its cells in hills, on trees, and in
(men's) habitations; Then to eat of all the produce (of the earth), and find with skill
the spacious paths of its Lord: there issues from within their bodies a drink of varying
colours, wherein is healing for men: verily in this is a Sign for those who give thought.
(Surat an-Nahl (The Bee), 68-69)
It is generally known that honey is a fundamental food source for the human body,
whereas only a few people are aware of the extraordinary features of its producer, the
As known, food source of bees is nectar, which is not possible to be found during
winter. For this reason, they combine the nectar collected in summer time with special
secretions of their body, produce a new food substance, which is honey, and store it for
the coming winter months.
It is noteworthy that the amount of honey stored by the bees is much more
than their actual need. The question which comes to the mind is why this "excessive
production", which seems to be a waste of time and energy is not stopped? The answer
to this question is hidden in the verse which states that the bee is "taught" so
by the Lord.
Bees innately produce honey not only for themselves but also for the human beings. As a
matter of fact, bees, like many other beings in nature, are offered to the service of man.
Just like the chicken laying at least one egg a day although it does not need it, or the
cow producing much more milk than its offspring needs.
EXCELLENT ORGANIZATION WITHIN THE HIVE
The lives of bees in the hive and their honey production have very interesting
contents. Without going into too much detail, let us discover the "social life"
of the bees with its basic features. There are numerous "tasks" to be performed
by the bees, all of which they overcome with an excellent organization.
Regulation of humidity and ventilation: Humidity of the hive, which gives honey its
protective quality, must be kept within a certain limit. If humidity is over or under a
normal limit, then the honey will get spoiled and loose its protective and nutritious
qualities. Similarly, temperature in the hive has to be 320 C for 10 months of the year.
In order to keep the temperature and humidity in the hive within certain limits, a special
"ventilation group" is appointed.
In a hot day, bees are easily observed ventilating the hive. The entrance of the hive
fills with bees and by clamping on the wooden ground, they fan the hive using their wings.
In a standard hive, air entering from one side is forced to leave from the other side.
Extra ventilator bees in the hive work for pushing the air to all corners of the hive.
The ventilation system is also useful in protecting the hive from smoke
and air pollution.
"And that We have subjected them to their (use)? of them some do carry them and
some they eat: And they have (other) profits from them (besides), and they get (milk) to
drink. Will they not then be grateful?"(Surah Ya-Seen (Ya-Seen), 72-73)
Health system : The effort of the bees to preserve the quality of the honey is not
limited with humidity and heat regulation. A perfect health system in force within the
hive also keeps under control all events that may result in the origination of bacteria.
The main purpose of this system is removing all substances subject to cause bacteria
production. The basic principle of this health system is to prevent foreign substances
from entering the hive. To secure this, always two guardians are kept at the entrance of
the hive. If a foreign substance or insect enters the hive despite this precaution, all
bees take action to remove it out from the hive.
For the bigger foreign objects that can not be removed from the hive, another
protection mechanism is started. Bees produce a substance called "propolis (bee
resin)" for these kind of situations. They produce it by adding some special
secretions to the resins they collect from trees like pine, poplar and acacia. Propolis is
a special substance in which no bacteria can survive. The bigger foreign objects in the
hive are enveloped with a 1,5 mm thick propolis, and are thus isolated from the hive.
The same bee resin is used to patch the cracks in the hive. After being applied on the
cracks by the bees, the resin reacts with air and forms a hard surface drying in a very
It is quite obvious that the system employed by the bees for the protection of the hive
requires great consciousness and intelligence. What is more interesting is the special
feature of the propolis, secreted by protection purposes by the bees, not letting any
bacteria survive in it. Even though we assume that bees secrete this substance
"consciously" to cover foreign substances, how can we explain that bees give an
antibacterial quality to this secretion? Can you - who have a more developed intelligence
than the bee - give antibacterial quality to any secretions of your body?
MAXIMUM STORAGE WITH MINIMUM MATERIAL
By shaping small beeswax, honey bees construct a hive where 30.000 bees can live and
The hive is made up of beeswax-walled honeycombs, which have hundreds of tiny cells on
each of its faces. All honeycomb cells are exactly at the same size. This engineering
miracle is achieved by the collective functioning of thousands of bees. Bees use these
cells for food storage and maintenance of the young bees.
Bees have been using the hexagonal structure for the construction of the honeycombs for
millions of years. (There is a bee fossil is found dating 100 million years.) It is a
wonder why they have chosen the hexagonal structure rather than octagonal, or pentagonal?
The answer is given by the mathematicians: "hexagonal structure is the most suitable
geometric form for maximum use of unit area" If the honeycomb cells were constructed
in another form, then there would be areas left out of use; thus less honey would be
stored, and less bees would be able to benefit from it.
As long as their depths are the same, a triangle or quadrangle cell would hold the same
amount of honey as a hexagonal cell. But, among all these geometric forms, hexagon is the
one with the shortest circumference. Whilst they have the same volume, amount of wax
required for hexagonal cells is less than that required for a triangular or quadrangular
So, the conclusion is: Hexagonal cell requires minimum amount of wax for construction
while it stores maximum amount of honey. This result, obtained after many complex
geometrical calculations, can surely not have been calculated by bees themselves. These
tiny animals use the hexagon form innately, just because they are "taught" and
inspired so by their Lord.
The hexagonal design of the cells is practical in many aspects. Cells fit to each other
and they share each other's walls. This, again, ensures maximum storage with minimum wax.
Although the walls of the cells are rather thin, they are strong enough to sustain a few
times of their own weight.
Besides the side walls, the same principle of maximum saving is considered also while
the bottom edges are constructed.
Combs are built as a slice with two lines lying back to back, where the connection
point problem occurs. This problem is solved by constructing the bottom surfaces of cells
by combining three equilateral quadrangles. When three cells are built on one face of the
comb, the bottom surface of one cell on the other face is automatically constructed.
As the bottom surface is composed of equilateral quadrangle wax plaques, the depth
increases in these cells, which results in an increase in the volume and thus in the
amount of honey to be stored.
OTHER CHARACTERISTICS OF HONEY COMB CELLS
Another point that bees consider during the construction of the honeycomb is the
inclination of cells. By rising cells 13 in both sides, they prevent the cells from being
parallel to ground. Thus, honey does not leak out from the mouth of the cell.
While working, worker bees hang onto each other in circles and get together in bunches.
By doing this, they aim to provide the necessary temperature for wax production. Little
sacks in their abdomen produce a transparent liquid, which leaks out and hardens the thin
wax layers. Bees collect the wax with the little hooks on their legs. They put this wax
into their mouth, chew and process it till it softens enough and shape it in the cells.
Many bees work together to ensure the required temperature for the working place in order
to keep the wax soft and processable.
There is another interesting point to note in the construction of the
honeycomb: The construction of the honeycomb is started from the upper side of the hive
and continued simultaneously in two or three separate rows downward. While a honeycomb
slice expands in two opposite directions, first the bottom of its two rows join. This
process is realized in an astonishing harmony and order. Therefore,
it is never possible to understand that the honeycomb actually consists of three separate
parts. The honeycomb slices started simultaneously from different directions are so
perfectly arranged that, although there are hundreds of different angles in its structure
it seems like one uniform piece.
For such a construction, bees need to calculate the distances between the starting and
connection points in advance and then design the dimensions of the cells accordingly. How
such a delicate calculation can be done by thousands of bees have always impressed
It is obviously irrational to assume that this task, which man can hardly overcome is
arranged by bees. There is such a delicate and detailed organization in force that it is
impossible for them to carry it out on their own.
So how do they achieve this then? An evolutionist would explain this event
to be achieved by "instinct". But what is this "instinct" that can
address to thousands of bees at the same time and make them perform a collective task?
The point is that it would not be sufficient even if each bee acted
as per its own "instinct"; since what they do must necessarily be in concordance
with each other. Due to this reason, they must be directed by an "instinct"
coming from a unique source. The bees, who start constructing the hive from different
corners and then combining their separate works without leaving any gaps and having all
the cells constructed equally in the perfect hexagonal structure, must certainly be
receiving "'instinctive" messages from the very same source!...
The term "instinct" used above is in fact nothing more than a
'futile name' just like mentioned in the Qur'an, the 40th verse of Surah Joseph. It is of
no use to insist on such 'futile names' in order to conceal clear truths. Bees are guided
from a unique source and thus they come to successfully perform tasks which otherwise they
would not be able to. And it is not those namely 'instincts' that lead bees to that; but
the 'teaching' mentioned in Chapter An-nahl of the Quran. What these tiny animals do
is to implement the program that Allah has particularly given to them.
"And in the creation of yourselves and the fact that animals are scattered
(through the earth), are Signs for those of assured Faith." (Surat al-Jathiya
HOW THEY DETERMINE THEIR DIRECTION
Bees usually have to fly long distances and trace large areas to find food. They
collect flower dust and honey constituent within a range of 800 m. from their hive. The
bee which finds the flowers flies back to the hive to inform others about their place.
But, how will this bee describe the place of the flowers to its friends in the hive? By
The bee returning to the hive starts to make some sort of a dance. This
dance is a means of expression used to tell other bees the location of the flowers. This
dance repeated many times by the bee, includes all the information about the inclination,
direction, distance and other details of the food source that enable other bees to reach
This dance is actually an "8" figure constantly repeated by the bee (the
above picture). The bee forms the middle part of the figure "8" by shaking its
tail and making zig zags. The angle between the zig zags and the line between the sun and
the hive, gives the exact direction of the food source (the below picture).
However, knowing only the direction of the food source is not enough. Worker bees
should also "know" how far they have to travel to collect honey constituent So,
the bee returning from the flower source, "tells" other bees the distance of the
flower pollens by certain body movements. It does this by shaking the bottom part of its
body and causing air currents. For example; in order to "describe" a
distance of 250 m., it shakes the bottom part of its body 5 times in half a minute. This
way, the exact place of the source is made clear with the details given about distance and
If the journey from the hive to the food source takes a long time, then there is
another problem facing the bee, who can only describe the food source according to the
sun. In the bees journey back to the hive, the sun moves 1 degree every
four minutes. Eventually, the bee will make an error of 1 degree about the direction of
the food source it informs to its friends for each four minutes it spends on the
Certainly, the bee does not have any such problem! The bee's eye is formed of hundreds
of tiny hexagonal lenses. Each lens focuses on a very narrow area just like a telescope. A
bee looking towards the sun at a certain time of day can always find its location while it
flies. The bee is estimated to be doing this calculation by making use of the change in
the daylight given out by the sun depending on the time of the day. As a result, while
flying in daylight, the bee determines the direction of the target by making corrections
in the information on the direction of the food source which it is to give in the hive..
METHOD OF MARKING FLOWERS
When a flower is visited, a honey bee can understand if the nectar of that flower has
previously been consumed by another bee, and leaves the flower immediately. This way, it
saves both time and energy. Well, how does the bee understand, without checking the
flower, that the nectar is consumed?
This is made possible thanks to the bees which have visited the flower earlier and
marked it by leaving a drop with a special scent. Whenever a new bee looks in on the same
flower, it realizes the scent, understands that the flower if of no use and goes on flying
directly towards another flower. Thus, bees are not allowed to waste time on the same
"Then to eat of all the produce (of the earth), and find with skill the spacious
paths of its Lord: there issues from within their bodies a drink of varying colours,
wherein is healing for men: verily in this is a Sign for those who give thought."
(Surat an-Nahl (The Bee) 69)
"And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on
earth: Behold, in that are Signs indeed for those who reflect." (Surat al-Jathiya
THE HONEY MIRACLE
Do you know how important a food source the honey, offered to man by Allah by means of
a tiny animal, is?
Honey is composed of sugars like glucose and fructose and minerals like magnesium,
potassium, calcium, sodium chlorine, sulfur, iron and phosphate. It includes B1, B2, C,
B6, B5 and B3 vitamins changing according to the qualities of nectar and pollen sources.
Besides; copper, iodine, iron and zinc exist in it in small quantities. Also, several
kinds of hormones are also present in its content.
As stated in the Qur'an, honey has a feature of 'healing men'. This
scientific fact was also confirmed by the scientists who assembled during the World
Apiculture Conference held on 20-26 September 1993 in China: "During the Conference,
treatments with honey derivatives were discussed. Especially the American scientists
expressed that honey, royal jelly, pollen and propolis (bee resin) had the property of
curing many illnesses. A Romanian doctor stated that he tried honey on cataract patients,
and 2002 out of his 2094 patients recovered completely. Polish doctors also informed that
bee resin helped t cure many diseases like haemorrhoid, skin problems, gynaecological
diseases and many others." (Hurriyet Newspaper, 19 October
Nowadays, apiculture and bee products has become a new branch of research in countries
advanced in science. Other benefits of honey may be described as below:
Easily digested: Because the sugar molecules in the honey can convert into other types
of sugar (fructose to glucose), the honey is easily digested by the most sensitive
stomachs despite its high acid concentration. It also helps kidneys and intestines to
Has a low calorie level: Another quality of the honey is that, when it is compared with
the same amount of sugar, it gives 40% less calories to the body. Although it gives great
energy to the body, it does not add on weight.
Rapidly fuses into blood: When accompanied by mild water, honey fuses into the
bloodstream in 7 minutes. The free sugar molecules in it make the brain function easier...
Supports blood formation: Honey provides an important part of the energy needed by the
body for blood formation. In addition, it helps cleaning the blood. It has some positive
effects in regulating the blood circulation and facilitating it. Also, it functions as an
important protection against capillary problems and arteriosclerosis.
Does not accommodate bacteria: This bacteria killing property of the honey is named as
the "inhibition effect". The experiments conducted on honey resolve that, its
bacteria killing property increases twice when diluted with water. It is very interesting
to note that the newborns in the bee colony are nourished with diluted honey by the bees
responsible of their supervision - as if they know this feature of the honey.
Royal Jelly: Royal jelly is a substance produced by worker bees inside the beehive.
Inside this nutritious substance, there exist sugar, proteins, fats and many vitamins. It
is used in problems which occur as a result of tissue deficiency or body frailty.
It is obvious that honey, which is produced in much higher amounts than the requirement
of the bees, is made for the benefit of man. And it is also obvious that bees cannot
perform such an unbelievable task "on their own"...
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