The Honey Bee
It is well known by almost everyone that
honey is a fundamental food source for the human body, whereas only
a few people are aware of the extraordinary qualities of its producer,
As we know, the food source of bees is nectar,
which is not found during winter. For this reason, they combine
the nectar collected in summer time with special secretions of their
body, produce a new nutrient - honey - and store it for the coming
It is noteworthy that the amount of honey stored
by bees is much greater than their actual need. The first question
that comes to mind is why do the bees not give up this "excess production",
which seems a waste of time and energy for them? The answer to this
question is hidden in the "inspiration" stated in the verse to have
been given the bee.
Your Lord inspired the bees: "Build
dwellings in the mountains and the trees, and also in the
structures which men erect. Then eat from every kind of fruit
and travel the paths of your Lord, made easy for you to follow."
From their bellies comes a drink of varying colours, containing
healing for mankind. There is certainly a sign in that for
people who reflect. (Surat an-Nahl: 68-69)
Bees produce honey not only for themselves but
also for human beings. Bees, like many other natural beings, are
also dedicated to the service of man, just as the chicken lays at
least one egg a day although it does not need it, and the cow produces
much more milk than its offspring needs.
Excellent organisation in the hive
The bees’ lives in the hive and their honey production
are fascinating. Without going into too much detail, let us discover
the basic features of the "social life" of bees. Bees must carry
out numerous "tasks" and they manage all of them with excellent
Regulation of humidity and ventilation: The
humidity of the hive, which gives honey its highly protective quality,
must be kept within certain limits. If humidity is over or under
those limits, then the honey is spoiled and loses its protective
and nutritious qualities. Similarly, the temperature in the hive
has to be 35° C throughout 10 months of the year. In order to keep
the temperature and humidity of the hive within certain limits,
a special group takes charge of "ventilation".
On a hot day, bees can easily be observed ventilating
the hive. The entrance of the hive fills with bees and clamping
themselves to the wooden structure, they fan the hive with their
wings. In a standard hive, air entering from one side is forced
to leave from the other side. Extra ventilator bees work within
the hive to push the air to all corners of the hive.
This ventilation system is also useful in protecting
the hive from smoke and air pollution.
Health system: The efforts of the bees
to preserve the quality of honey are not limited to the regulation
of humidity and heat. A perfect healthcare system exists within
the hive to keep all events that may result in the production of
bacteria under control. The main purpose of this system is to remove
all substances likely to cause bacteria production. The basic principle
of this health system is to prevent foreign substances from entering
the hive. To secure this, two guardians are always kept at the entrance
of the hive. If a foreign substance or insect enters the hive despite
this precaution, all bees act to remove it from the hive.
We have made them (livestock) tame for
them and some they ride and
some they eat. And they have other uses in them and milk to
drink. So will they not show thanks?
(Surah Yasin: 72-73)
bigger foreign objects that cannot be removed from the hive, another
protection mechanism is used. Bees "embalm" these foreign objects.
They produce a substance called "propolis (bee resin)" with which
they carry out the "embalming" process. Produced by adding special
secretions to the resins they collect from trees like pine, poplar
and acacia, the bee resin is also used to patch cracks in the hive.
After being applied to the cracks by the bees, the resin dries as
it reacts with air and forms a hard surface. Thus, it can stand
against all kinds of external threats. Bees use this substance in
most of their work.
At this point, many questions spring to mind.
Propolis has the feature of not allowing any bacteria to live in
it. This makes propolis an ideal substance for embalming. How do
bees know that this substance is an ideal substance for embalming?
How do bees produce a substance, which man can only produce in laboratory
conditions and with the use of technology if he has a certain level
of knowledge of chemistry? How do they know that a dead insect causes
bacteria production and that embalming will prevent this?
It is evident that the bee has neither any knowledge
on this subject, nor a laboratory in its body. The bee is only an
insect 1-2 cm in size and it only does that with which its Lord
has inspired it.
Maximum storage with minimum material
Bees construct hives in which 80,000 bees can live
and work together by shaping small portions of beeswax.
The hive is made up of beeswax-walled honeycombs,
which have hundreds of tiny cells on each of their faces. All honeycomb
cells are exactly the same size. This engineering miracle is achieved
by the collective work of thousands of bees. Bees use these cells
for food storage and the maintenance of young bees.
Bees have been using the hexagonal structure
for the construction of honeycombs for millions of years. (A bee
fossil has been found dating from 100 million years ago). It is
astonishing that they have chosen a hexagonal structure rather than
an octagonal, or pentagonal. Mathematicians give the reason: "the
hexagonal structure is the most suitable geometric form for the
maximum use of unit area." If honeycomb cells were constructed in
another form, then there would be areas left unused; thus, less
honey would be stored, and fewer bees would be able to benefit from
As long as their depths are the same, a triangular
or quadrangular cell would hold the same amount of honey as a hexagonal
cell. However, among all these geometric forms, the hexagonal has
the shortest circumference. Whilst they have the same volume, the
amount of wax required for hexagonal cells is less than the amount
of wax required for a triangular or quadrangular one.
The conclusion: hexagonal cells require
minimal amounts of wax in terms of construction while they store
maximal amounts of honey. Bees themselves surely cannot have calculated
this result, obtained by man after many complex geometrical calculations.
These tiny animals use the hexagonal form innately, just because
they are taught and "inspired" so by their Lord.
The hexagonal design of cells is practical in
many respects. Cells fit to one another 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
carry a few times their own weight.
As well as in the walls of the sides of the cells,
bees also take the maximum saving principle into consideration while
they construct the bottom edges.
Combs are built as a slice with two rows lying
back to back. In this case, the problem of the junction point of
two cells occurs. Constructing the bottom surfaces of cells by combining
three equilateral quadrangles solves this problem. 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
quadrangular wax plaques, a downward deepening is observed at the
bottom of those cells made by this method. This means an increase
in the volume of the cell and, thus, in the amount of honey stored.
Other characteristics of honey comb
Another point that bees consider during the construction
of the honeycomb is the inclination of cells. By raising cells 13
degree Centigrade on both sides, they prevent the cells from being
parallel to the ground. Thus, honey does not leak out from the mouth
of the cell.
While working, worker bees hang onto each other
in circles and congregate together in bunches. By doing this, they
provide the necessary temperature for wax production. Little sacks
in their abdomens 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 mouths, and chew
and process it until it softens enough and so give it shape in the
cells. Many bees work together to ensure the required temperature
for the work place in order to keep the wax soft and malleable.
There is another interesting point to note: the
construction of the honeycomb starts from the upper side of the
hive and continues 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 realised
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, which 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
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 can
such a delicate calculation be done by thousands of bees? This has
always impressed scientists.
It is obviously irrational to assume that bees
have solved this task, which man can hardly manage. There is such
a delicate and detailed organisation involved that it is impossible
for them to carry it out on their own.
So how do they achieve this? An evolutionist
would explain that this event has been achieved by "instinct". However,
what is the "instinct" that can address thousands of bees at the
same time and make them perform a collective task? It would not
be sufficient even if each bee acted on its own "instinct", since
what they do would necessarily have to be in concordance with each
other’s instincts in order to achieve this astonishing result. Due
to this, they must be directed by an "instinct" coming from a unique
source. Bees, who start constructing the hive from different corners
and then combine their separate tasks without leaving any gaps and
having all the cells constructed equally in a perfect hexagonal
structure, must certainly be receiving "instinctive" messages from
the very same source!...
And in your creation and all the
creatures He has scattered about there are sings for people
with certainity.(Surat al-Jathiyah: 4)
The term "instinct" used above is "only a name"
as mentioned in the Qur’an, in the 40th verse of Surah Yusuf. It
is of no use insisting on such "mere names" in order to conceal
clear truths. Bees are guided from a unique source and thus they
successfully come to perform tasks which they otherwise would not
be able to. It is not instinct, a term with no definition, that
guides bees but the "inspiration" mentioned in Surat an-Nahl. What
these tiny animals do is implement the programme that Allah has
particularly set for them.
How they determine their direction
usually have to fly long distances and scan large areas to find food.
They collect flower pollens and the constituents of honey within a
range of 800m of the hive. A bee, which finds flowers, flies back
to its hive to let others know about their place, but how will this
bee describe the location of the flowers to the other bees in the
By dancing!… The bee returning to the hive starts
to perform a dance. This dance is a means of expression, which it
uses to tell the 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 it.
dance is actually a figure "8" constantly repeated by the bee (see
picture above). The bee forms the middle part of the figure "8"
by wagging its tail and performing zigzags. The angle between the
zigzags and the line between the sun and the hive gives the exact
direction of the food source (see picture above).
However, knowing only the direction of the food
source is not enough. Worker bees also need to "know" how far they
have to travel to collect the ingredients for the honey, so, the
bee returning from the flower source, "tells" the other bees the
distance of the flower pollens by means of certain body movements.
It does this by wagging the bottom part of its body and creating
air currents. For example, in order to "describe" a distance
of 250m, it wags the bottom part of its body 5 times in half a minute.
This way, the exact location of the source is made clear in detail,
both with respect to its distance and its orientation.
A new problem awaits the bee in those flights
where the round trip to the food source takes a long time. As the
bee, who can only describe the food source according to the direction
of the sun, goes back to its hive, the sun moves 1 degree every
4 minutes. Eventually, the bee will make an error of 1 degree for
each four minutes it spends on the way about the direction of the
food source of which it informs the other bees.
Astonishingly, the bee does not have such a 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 does. A
bee looking towards the sun at a certain time of the day can always
find its location while it flies. The bee is reckoned to do this
calculation by making use of the change in the light emitted by
the sun depending on the time of the day. Consequently, the bee
determines the direction of the target location without mistake
by making corrections in the information it gives in the hive as
the sun moves forward.
Method of marking flowers
When a flower has already been visited, the honeybee
can understand that another bee has earlier consumed the nectar of
that flower, and leave the flower immediately. This way, it saves
both time and energy. Well, how does the bee understand, without checking
the flower, that the nectar has earlier been consumed?
This is made possible because the bees which
visited the flower earlier marked it by leaving a drop on it with
a special scent. Whenever a new bee looks in on the same flower,
it smells the scent and understands that the flower is of no use
and so goes on directly towards another flower. Thus, bees do not
waste time on the same flower.
The miracle of honey
From their bellies comes a drink of
varying colours, containing healing for mankind… (Surat an-Nahl:
Do you know how important a food source the honey
is, which Allah offers man by means of a tiny insect?
Honey is composed of sugars like glucose and fructose and minerals
like magnesium, potassium, calcium, sodium chlorine, sulphur, iron
and phosphate. It contains vitamins B1, B2, C, B6, B5 and B3 all
of which change according to the qualities of the nectar and pollen.
Besides the above, copper, iodine, and zinc exist in it in small
quantities. Several kinds of hormones are also present in it.
As Allah says in the Qur’an, honey is a "healing
for men". This scientific fact was confirmed by scientists who assembled
during the World Apiculture Conference held from 20-26 September
1993 in China. During the conference, treatments with honey derivatives
were discussed. American scientists in particular said that honey,
royal jelly, pollen and propolis (bee resin) cure many diseases.
A Romanian doctor stated that he tried honey on cataract patients,
and 2002 out of his 2094 patients recovered completely. Polish doctors
also informed the conference that bee resin helps to cure many diseases
such as haemorrhoids, skin problems, gynaecological diseases and
many other disorders.
Nowadays, apiculture and bee products have opened
a new branch for research in countries advanced in science. Other
benefits of honey may be described as below:
Easily digested: Because sugar molecules
in honey can convert into other sugars (e.g. fructose to glucose),
honey is easily digested by the most sensitive stomachs, despite
its high acid content. It helps kidneys and intestines to function
Has a low calorie level: Another quality of 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 weight.
Rapidly diffuses through the blood: When
accompanied by mild water, honey diffuses into the bloodstream in
7 minutes. Its free sugar molecules make the brain function better
since the brain is the largest consumer of sugar.
Supports blood formation: Honey provides
an important part of the energy needed by the body for blood formation.
In addition, it helps in cleansing the blood. It has some positive
effects in regulating and facilitating blood circulation. It also
functions as a protection against capillary problems and arteriosclerosis.
Does not accommodate bacteria: This bactericide
(bacteria-killing) property of honey is named "the inhibition effect".
Experiments conducted on honey show that its bactericide properties
increase twofold when diluted with water. It is very interesting
to note that newly born bees in the colony are nourished with diluted
honey by the bees responsible for 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
are sugar, proteins, fats and many vitamins. It is used in problems
caused by tissue deficiency or body frailty.
It is obvious that honey, which is produced in
much higher amounts than the requirements 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."
And He has made everything in the heavens
and everything in the earth subservient to you. It is all
from Him. There are certainly signs in that for people who
(Surat al-Jathiyah: 13)