Bees and mathematics…..


This is a quick sketch lino cut print of a dream I had this week…. a dark night sky lit up by hot air balloons with numerous equations on them . As I have been working on Honeybees so closely this past few weeks I felt it had something to do with bees and mathematics. So I looked further …..

“Honeybees construct hexagonal cells to hold their honey.
People can be skeptical when some mathematicians and scientists talk about mathematics as the “mysterious code” that “underpins the world.”  But……..Honeycombs are remarkably symmetrical. Each little cell is a perfect hexagon – and all bees build this way. Why? Because of mathematics.

Bees…by virtue of a certain geometrical forethought…know that the hexagon is greater than the square and the triangle, and will hold more honey for the same expenditure of material.” — Pappus of Alexandria…one of the last great Greek mathematicians.

“Another  ancient Roman scholar named Marcus Terrentius Varro conjectured that the hexagon is the shape that most efficiently breaks flat space up into little units – making honeycombs  hold the most amount of honey while using the least amount of wax. He couldn’t prove his idea, though.It remained a conjecture until 1999 when a mathematician named Thomas Hales finally proved it!
The fact that it has taken 2,000 years of effort and 19 pages of advanced mathematics to show that the familiar honeycomb is the most efficient pattern for the storage of honey is as much a marvelous testament both to the wonders of nature and to our mathematical ingenuity.”

Linda Hill




About redseedsgatherer

Linda Hill
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