Honeybees spend most of their lifespans—which vary depending on the time of year—building, protecting, and working for their hive…and for good reason. From housing the brood to storing reserves of precious honey, the hive is the hub of a honeybee colony’s life. This may seem obvious, but we don’t often stop to ask ourselves where these hives come from and how they’re made. How do honeybees create beehives? This guide has all the answers.
Shortly after a female worker bee matures—at about ten days old—she develops a wax-producing gland in her abdomen. This allows her to make wax out of the honey she eats. The bee converts the sugar content of the honey into wax, which she then secretes from her pores as tiny flakes of wax that stick to the bees’ abdomens. Like with honey, other worker bees chew these pieces of wax. Once the wax is soft and maneuverable, the bees add it to the honeycomb to continue constructing the hive.
In the wild, honeybee hives consist of disc-like shapes that hang from tree branches or in rock crevices. Beekeepers, on the other hand, use hive boxes to protect their bees from the elements, predators, and pests. When building their honeycombs, the honeybees conform to the shape of the beehive frames. The uniform shape and size of hive frames allows for easy access to the honeycombs, honey, and wax in a beehive.
Now that you know how honeybees create beehives, you might be wondering why they make them the way they do. The hexagonal shape of a honeycomb is the most efficient layout for a hive. It creates a large amount of space in which the bees can store honey or raise the brood, allowing them to make the most out of each cell. At the same time, the flat edges allow the bees to perfectly align cells next to one another, leaving no wasted space or wax between them.
All in all, a honeybee hive is a masterpiece of structure and productivity. From the efficient use of resources to the valuable labor of the worker bees within, it’s no wonder why healthy beehives are so prosperous!