Thursday, 16 June 2011

Honey: The Miraculous Traditional Remedy

The honey bee exhibits a combination of individual traits and social co-operation which is unparalleled in the animal kingdom. A glimpse into the nest makes it apparent why honey bees have fascinated us from the earliest days of scientific observations. The infrastructure of the nest, the perfectly uniform and functional comb, is composed of beeswax and is constructed into a repeating series of almost perfect hexagonal cells.

At the individual level, honey bees have not one but three types of colony members: queens, drones and workers, each with their own specialisations and place in honey bee society. The queen reigns over the nest, surrounded by attendants and fed the rich food she requires to perform her few but crucial tasks in the colony. The queen produces powerful pheromones, chemical signals to recipient workers which control many of their behaviours and provide part of the 'social glue' which holds honey bee life together. A highly organised social structure exists within the colony and elaborate 'dances' are used to communicate the location of food sources.