Why Beehive Honeycombs Have a Hexagonal Shape
Why Beehive Honeycombs Have a Hexagonal ShapeArabic
Beavers are generally known as the engineers of the animal world. In fact the beaver is MIT's mascot! But honeybees might be better engineers than beavers! And in this lesson involving geometry in interesting ways, you'll see why! Honeybees, over time, have optimized the design of their beehives. Mathematicians can do no better. In this lesson, students will learn how to find the areas of shapes (triangles, squares, hexagons) in terms of the radius of a circle drawn inside of these shapes. They will also learn to compare those shapes to see which one is the most efficient for beehives. This lesson also discusses the three-dimensional shape of the honeycomb and shows how bees have optimized that in multiple dimensions. During classroom breaks, students will do active learning around the mathematics involved in this engineering expertise of honeybees. Students should be conversant in geometry, and a little calculus and differential equations would help, but not mandatory.
Fatma Al-Qatani has a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from King Faisal University. She currently work as an Administrative Assistant in the Resources Department for the National Learning Grid at Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Center of Science and Technology.
Additional Online Resources
Blog post part one | Blog post part two | Blog post part three
The three-part series below, sponsored by the RiteaKent blog site of Ang Wee Lee, provides another comprehensive overview of the Mathematics of the Honeycomb.
Watch How Bees Teach Each Other to Solve Problems
This article from National Geographic Magazine discusses new research on bumblebees that hints at how knowledge can quickly spread through a population.