Heart Shaped Honeycomb? A Closer Look at the Heart of the Hive

31.10.2022. 13:00

Have you ever stopped and marveled at the honeycomb structure in a honeybee hive or seen a heart shaped honeycomb?

It's remarkable how honeybees can construct perfectly symmetrical hexagons with honey and wax without any instruction. And not only is the honeycomb aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but it serves an important function in honey production and storage. 

The honeycomb is truly one of the fascinating things about bees and their hives. This intricate structure is not only the physical heart of the hive but also plays an essential role in a bee colony's life, regulating the temperature and humidity levels inside it. Without this crucial structure, the bees would be unable to survive.

Let's take a closer look at this incredible feat of engineering!

What is a honeycomb?

A honeycomb is made up of beeswax, which the bees produce from glands on their abdomens. This wax is then used to build hexagonal cells for various purposes, including raising young and storing honey and pollen.

By fanning their wings, the bees can create a draft that ventilates the hive and prevents the honey from overheating or becoming too humid. Wax is also used to build and repair the comb (hexagonal cells) and to cap off cells full of honey or pollen. 

How bees make honeycombs

Bees make honeycombs by working together as a team. Each bee has a specific job, and they all work together to create the perfect honeycomb.

The first step is for the bees to build a wax foundation. This foundation is what the rest of the honeycomb will be built on. Once the foundation is complete, the bees add wax to the comb to build it up. They use their bodies to heat the wax and then shape it into cells. 

The comb is built in a downward-facing orientation so that gravity can be used to help keep pollen and nectar in the cells. The cells are also used to regulate hives' temperature and humidity levels.

The bees also use propolis, a sticky resin collected from trees, to seal any cracks or gaps in the comb. This helps to protect the hive from pests and diseases. 

The importance of the honeycomb 

The honeycomb is where the magic happens. It is essential to both bees and beekeepers.

For bees, the honeycomb is everything. It's their home and the place where the bees turn pollen and nectar into honey. For beekeepers, the honeycomb is the place from where they harvest that honey

Fun fact: To make one pound of beeswax, the bees must consume about eight pounds of honey!

When it comes to beekeeping, the honeycomb is an important tool that helps you check on the health of your bees. It's a piece of plastic or wood with a honeycomb-shaped hole in the center, and it's used to hold honeycomb frames.

The comb is also important for regulating temperature and humidity levels inside the hive. It gives you a view of the brood nest.

You can tell if your bees are healthy and thriving by checking the brood nest. If they need to do better, you can take steps to correct the problem and help your bees

Are bees artists? The case of heart-shaped honeycomb

You might have seen the picture of a honeycomb-shaped heart made by bees. Allegedly it happened when their keeper forgot to put the frame in their hive. Although it’s a lovely bee story, according to an IFLscience article, it's not true. 

Here is the beekeeper's explanation of how he fashioned the beehive to encourage the heart shape. The artwork was made for his wife. "The lines are slots into which a foundation wax with the comb pattern on it can be placed, secured with melted beeswax. Normally a sheet to guide the bees as to where to build. So they just come across this weird pattern of foundation strip and start building onto it."

Still, the truth is that we all know bees are amazing creatures. They pollinate our plants, produce delicious honey, and even have their own form of communication. But did you know that bees may also be artists? 

The answer is pretty simple. When bees are building their honeycombs, they use a technique called "cell division." This allows them to create two identical hexagonal cells from one larger cell. By carefully controlling the size of the initial cell and the angle at which it is divided, the bees can create all sorts of different shapes.

So why do bees bother with all this extra effort? Well, it's still a bit of a mystery. Some beekeepers believe that different shapes are simply a result of the bees' natural instincts. Others think that the bees may be trying to communicate something to us. 

How to make a heart shaped honeycomb 

Although bees cannot create honey-shaped honeycombs alone, it is possible with a little beekeeper's help.

When it comes to helping your bees thrive, you can do a few things to make their lives a little easier. One of those things is to install a honeycomb heart in your hive to help you keep your bees healthy, productive, and safe.

A honeycomb heart is a raised platform in the shape of a heart that looks impressive and allows the bees to store honey above the brood nest. This helps keep the brood nest warm and dry and makes it easier for the bees to access the honey they need.

There are two main reasons to get heart shaped honeycombs: they store more honey and protect their hive from predators. The heart shape allows for more storage space than a traditional round comb, making it more difficult for predators to get into the hive. That's because the pointed end of the heart makes it harder for animals to get a good grip on the comb to tear it apart and eat the honey inside. 

Kozahive Honeycomb Heart 

Have you ever seen something and thought, "I need that in my life!"? Well, that's how we feel about the Kozahive heart shaped honeycomb

This heart shaped honeycomb is a linden wood heart in which bees store honey. After filling it with combed honey, it can be easily removed without the honey leaking. The heart is placed in a special kozahive or Langstroth frame

If you're not a beekeeper, you can still help the bees by installing a honeycomb heart in your backyard. Doing this will provide the bees with a safe place to store their honey and help keep them healthy and productive. This not only helps the bees thrive, but it also helps pollinate your flowers and plants. 

The honeycomb heart design attracts bees, and they will instinctively start building their nests there. 

So if you're a beekeeper or just someone who wants to help the bees, add a Honeycomb Heart to your garden and see the difference it makes.

From bees with love

Honeybees are amazing creatures, and their honeycomb is a testament to that. Without it, neither would be able to survive. These intricately designed structures are essential for the hive's survival, and they're a fascinating example of how bees work together for the colony's good.

So, the next time you see or check your honeycomb and a beehive, take a moment to appreciate all those little hexagons have done for us and all the hard work that went into making it!