U.S researchers at the Washington State Department of Agriculture have trapped one of the murder hornets for the first time last week. Also called the Asian giant hornet, why do they prey on bees? How are complex honeycomb structures made by bees anyway?
Crux of the Matter
Who Are These Murder Hornets ?
They are the world’s biggest predatory wasps who prey on honey bees, swooping down and grabbing them out of the air. Several dozen Asian giant hornets can together kill a whole hive and use them as protein nourishment for their young versions. So far, more than 1,300 traps have been set in Washington and their nests are being searched using infrared cameras.
Such mass attacks can kill thousands of bees in a few hours. Thus Entomologists (scientists studying insects) have nicknamed these orange and black insects after seeing their aggressive nature towards bees and protecting their kind in general to build colonies.
Difference Between Bees And Hornets
Hornets feed on insects like flies and bees while honeybees collect plant pollen as their protein. The former can sting again & again, yet survive. The bee dies after its one-time-use stinger rips out its abdomen.
Maths Behind Complex Honeycombs Solved?
As per a new study published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, the algorithm behind the complicated architecture of beeswax cells has been discovered.
The genus Tetragonula (stingless bees) specialize in building hives in several shapes, from stacks of circles in a bulls-eye, a single/double spiral to a group of terraces. Each individual cell is the landing spot for an egg and a building block for structures 20 levels high.
Digital Model Replicates Real-Life Process
Bees building such complicated shapes without any blueprints actually follow an algorithm. When each bee follows the very same rule in a different part of the waxy hive, an overall pattern is formed.
Hexagonal building blocks are used because they have the shortest perimeter of shapes that fit together tightly, making the most efficient use of wax.
So How Do They Do It?
The digital beehive started with one cell, with the worker bees working on it. Random variables were selected for the new additions to a growing edge which then produces various output patterns.
In nature, crystals grow similarly, with different impurities causing their different shapes. Entomologist Tim Heard suggests that this structure improves airflow through the hive and helps the queen bee navigate her home more easily.
- Coyote Peterson is a YouTube personality, wildlife educator, and host on Animal Planet. He is best known for his YouTube content, which includes animals stinging and biting him.
- Vessel is a structure and visitor attraction built in Manhattan, New York City. Built by the British designer Thomas Heatherwick, the elaborate honeycomb-like structure rises 16 stories and consists of 154 flights of stairs.
- Honeycomb structures are natural or man-made structures that have the geometry of a honeycomb to allow the minimization of the amount of used material to reach minimal weight and minimal material cost. They are widely used in the aerospace industry for this reason, and honeycomb materials in aluminum, fibreglass and advanced composite materials have been featured in aircraft and rockets since the 1950s.