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It is fascinating and also instructive to see how bees are organized. The hive is in fact still one of the most advanced social structures in nature, they are like anthills and few other animals are able to show off such a high level of organization and practicality.
As we're going to find out in this article, each has the their role in the hive, he knows what he has to do and does it without too much discussion, there is a sense of belonging to his family and the awareness that one must reproduce in order not to become extinct. These animals can undoubtedly teach us a lot and show us which flaws in our human society we can correct and how. And to think that it is one structure not studied at the table, I am referring to the hive, but born like this, spontaneously. Looking at it from the outside, it seems that it has all been calculated by a latest generation PC.
How bees are organized: geometry
Even the shape of the hive itself does not follow the aesthetic rules, although it is very beautiful, but follows those of logic and efficiency. This structure consists of honeycombs with a hexagonal shape precisely because the perfect hexagon is the geometric figure where the relationship between perimeter and area is more advantageous. Only the circle beats it. Why so much attention to these proportions? Because the cells must be as large as possible but at the same time they must not waste too much material in the construction phase, since the honeycomb is built with the wax that the bees themselves must produce. So here's that the hexagon ensures maximum efficiency, the least waste. It is a lesson that we must learn.
How bees are organized: hierarchies
It is not just the shape of the hive that is very organized but it is the society that lives there that has a stringent logic and everything goes smoothly. In the "people" of bees, there is a real social hierarchy, a pyramid on top of which the queen bee naturally stands but the whole social structure is highly organized, nothing is left to chance.
It may happen that the queen bee, for health reasons or other reasons, is forced to leave her hive together with the whole family. A power vacuum that in human society could lead to a real moment of crisis or violence. What happens in the bee society? There queen does the "swarming", that is, it leaves a fair number of eggs in the same hive, even a couple of thousand.
In the absence of the queen, the bees that have not been part of the swarm know by instinct that they must "recreate" a queen. They don't have a great alternative, if they don't they die, because their average lifespan is around 30 days. If a successor to the queen does not arrive, the family would become extinct because there would be no more generational change. In all of this reasoning, I have taken for granted something that I better clarify. In the whole hive, the only one capable of laying eggs.
How bees are organized: queen bee
The bees left without a queen, choose to create another one that ensures the continuation of their family a few tens of eggs among the thousands they have and begin to feed them with royal jelly, and not just honey and pollen, even before the caterpillar is born, more precisely three days after their spawning. This special feeding will make the bees potential queens because it is the quality of the food that marks their destiny.
We reason by social class: a caterpillar that eats only honey and pollen she will become a worker, those who eat royal jelly will become a queen. There is no social elevator in the bee society, this is one of the few things that is better not to imitate from these little animals.
The caterpillar fed with royal jelly makes it develop much better and makes it able to lay eggs, because it allows the development of the organs suitable for laying. These regal caterpillars after ten days of life they become "giants", much more developed than all the others who have become fed on pollen.
How bees are organized: natural selection
There is not only one but there are many caterpillars so fed, then the time comes to select the future queen. The eggs are not laid at the same time but at a distance from each other, each time one hatches the nurse bees check the conditions of the insect that is born and assess whether it is worthy of becoming the queen of the hive. It can happen that it is not perfect, so it is killed and expects to see what comes out of the eggs that hatch in the following days. As soon as a perfect insect, that becomes the queen bee.
He won't be able to lay eggs right away, though, because he needs to have intercourse with the male bee. This usually takes up to 10 days. The moment of mating is characterized by the nuptial flight and at least 100 males participate, all mating with the single queen who is able to hold their semen for all her life inside an organ that has only the queen and that is called "Spermatheca". In a second organ instead it can retain its eggs.
After this wedding ritual, the queen bee will remain “Closed in the house” to lay eggs deciding whether to fertilize them or not. Those fertilized will become females, the most important because they do everything for the hive, the others, not fertilized, will be male, the lowest in the social hierarchy and most useless.
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