There’s more complexity in the design of a bee than we’ll ever understand this side of heaven. Bees have unbelievable vision which enables them to read and solve colour puzzles. Did you know they can even recognize human faces? Their eyes have been wonderfully designed with 6 300 ommatidia that are capable of telling the difference between 300 separate flashing lights per second. This ability helps to guide their way as they fly over changing landscapes. Now that’s incredible.
The tiny bee’s brain contains a mapping system that has scientists perplexed. Bees need to conserve energy while searching for flowers. They do this by working out, mathematically, the shortest route from the beehive to the flower source. Researches speculate that the bee is using complex algorithms to work out mathematical problems that usually keep computers busy for days. Scientists would like to understand the algorithms to improve traffic flow problems on roadways.
Do you ever observe bees and wonder if they crash when landing? Bees never crash! The landing techniques of a bee are efficient. Their shortcut algorithms calculate important landing information with visual data received by detecting incoming visible light. Aircraft engineers hope to understand how bees land on surfaces so gently and precisely, then they could design aircraft that would make perfectly gentle landings too. It seems that bee landing strategies may lead to better aircraft.
Solving difficult mathematical problems doesn’t end with complex mapping systems and landing algorithms. Bees use their mathematical skills when designing their hives. If you’ve seen a beehive, then you would have noticed the perfect hexagonal shaped cell created by the bee to store honey. A hexagonal shaped structure is very strong and it doesn’t waste space.
I wonder what bees would need to consider before building a honeycomb?
Bees are extraordinary creatures to observe and we do know a lot about them, but there is still so much more to understanding a bee. It’s also fun ‘doing’ science than just reading about it. It stimulates curiosity and discovery.
Recently, a bee study conducted by a group of 8-year-old children was published in the Royal Society Journal. They did an experiment no one had done before. They wondered how bees knew which flowers to pollinate, as some plants may be unhealthy for them, and how did they know which flowers had already been visited?
They asked their own questions, devised a hypothesis, designed experiments, and analyzed their data. They wrote down their observations and drew pictures of what they saw. The children discovered that bees use the combination of colour, pattern, and location to extract information from complex scenes to choose flowers to pollinate.
What do you wonder about bees? Why don’t you set out to discover hidden patterns and relationships in nature around you?
You can do this through:
- Careful observation of the creature you want to know more about.
- Ask all the questions you can think of.
- Choose one question to find the solution to.
- Suggest a solution for the unanswered question. Create a hypothesis.
- Design an experiment to find out if your hypothesis is correct.
- Collect your data and display it, perhaps in the form of a graph.
- Analyze the data.
- Write your conclusion. Include photographs or drawings of your experiment.
One has to wonder at the complexity of creatures like the bee. How are they able to compute all the data they receive in a brain the size of a mustard seed? How do they work out mathematical problems, reason, connect symbols to numbers and navigate? Surely, such intelligence didn’t come about by chance? Evidence points to a Designer who expertly created the bee with everything it needs to do the job it was created for. The bee had an intelligent Programmer who installed the algorithms needed to map and fly efficiently.
Would you like to learn more about honeybees?
Do a Mini Honeybee Nature Study HERE.
Or dig deeper with the Australian Nature Study Guide | Volume 1 | Summer/Autumn.
Did you know Nature Club is coming soon?
It is designed to empower us to encourage our children in outdoor investigation by providing prompts to nudge them to observe, collect data, or journal our flora and fauna.