June 2014 |

Billie Silvey |

When I was a child, one of my great aunts used

to keep a punchbowl in the center of her big,

round dining table. It was filled with honey, with

a big chunk of comb floating in it. We’d have

toast or biscuits with butter and honey when we

went to see her. Mother didn't think it was

hygenic, but I loved it.

When you looked at the honeycomb, it was

obvious that every cell was a hexagon--a perfect

hexagon with six sides of equal length.

When you look at bees building a honeycomb,

you'll see that all of them are working--

collectively, simultaneously and constantly.

Using perfect hexagons, every cell fits tightly

with every other cell. All the bees can pitch in.

It's an easy jigsaw puzzle in which all the pieces

More than 2,000 years ago, a Roman soldier

and scholar, Marcus Terentius Varro,

speculated that a honeycomb built of hexagons

could hold more honey or required less

building wax.

to keep a punchbowl in the center of her big,

round dining table. It was filled with honey, with

a big chunk of comb floating in it. We’d have

toast or biscuits with butter and honey when we

went to see her. Mother didn't think it was

hygenic, but I loved it.

When you looked at the honeycomb, it was

obvious that every cell was a hexagon--a perfect

hexagon with six sides of equal length.

When you look at bees building a honeycomb,

you'll see that all of them are working--

collectively, simultaneously and constantly.

Using perfect hexagons, every cell fits tightly

with every other cell. All the bees can pitch in.

It's an easy jigsaw puzzle in which all the pieces

More than 2,000 years ago, a Roman soldier

and scholar, Marcus Terentius Varro,

speculated that a honeycomb built of hexagons

could hold more honey or required less

building wax.

According to physicist Alan Lightman, "It is a

mathematical truth that there are only three

geometic figures with equal sides that can fit

together on a flat surface without leaving

gaps: equilateral triangles, squares and

hexagons."

A structure built of hexagons is more

compact, and thus requires less wax. A bee

must consume about eight ounces of honey

mathematical truth that there are only three

geometic figures with equal sides that can fit

together on a flat surface without leaving

gaps: equilateral triangles, squares and

hexagons."

A structure built of hexagons is more

compact, and thus requires less wax. A bee

must consume about eight ounces of honey