THE HONEY BEE
inspired the bees: "Build dwellings in the mountains and the trees,
and also in the structures which men erect. Then eat from every
kind of fruit and travel the paths of your Lord, made easy for you
to follow." From their bellies comes a drink of varying colours,
containing healing for mankind. There is certainly a sign in that
for people who reflect. (Surat
It is well known by almost everyone that honey is a fundamental
food source for the human body, whereas only a few people are aware of
the extraordinary qualities of its producer, the honeybee.
As we know, the food source of bees is nectar, which is not found during
winter. For this reason, they combine the nectar collected in summer time
with special secretions of their body, produce a new nutrient - honey
- and store it for the coming winter months.
It is noteworthy that the amount of honey stored by bees is much greater
than their actual need. The first question that comes to mind is why do
the bees not give up this "excess production", which seems a waste of
time and energy for them? The answer to this question is hidden in the
"inspiration" stated in the verse to have been given the bee.
Bees produce honey not only for themselves but also for human beings.
Bees, like many other natural beings, are also dedicated to the service
of man, just as the chicken lays at least one egg a day although it does
not need it, and the cow produces much more milk than its offspring needs.
EXCELLENT ORGANISATION IN THE HIVE
The bees’ lives in the hive and their honey production are fascinating.
Without going into too much detail, let us discover the basic features
of the "social life" of bees. Bees must carry out numerous "tasks" and
they manage all of them with excellent organisation.
Regulation of humidity and ventilation: The humidity of the hive,
which gives honey its highly protective quality, must be kept within certain
limits. If humidity is over or under those limits, then the honey is spoiled
and loses its protective and nutritious qualities. Similarly, the temperature
in the hive has to be 35° C throughout 10 months of the year. In order
to keep the temperature and humidity of the hive within certain limits,
a special group takes charge of "ventilation".
On a hot day, bees can easily be observed ventilating the hive. The entrance
of the hive fills with bees and clamping themselves to the wooden structure,
they fan the hive with their wings. In a standard hive, air entering from
one side is forced to leave from the other side. Extra ventilator bees
work within the hive to push the air to all corners of the hive.
This ventilation system is also useful in protecting the hive from smoke
and air pollution.
Health system: The efforts of the bees to preserve the quality
of honey are not limited to the regulation of humidity and heat. A perfect
healthcare system exists within the hive to keep all events that may result
in the production of bacteria under control. The main purpose of this
system is to remove all substances likely to cause bacteria production.
The basic principle of this health system is to prevent foreign substances
from entering the hive. To secure this, two guardians are always kept
at the entrance of the hive. If a foreign substance or insect enters the
hive despite this precaution, all bees act to remove it from the hive.
We have made them (livestock) tame for them
and some they ride and
some they eat. And they have other uses in them and milk to drink.
So will they not show thanks?
(Surah Yasin: 72-73)
bigger foreign objects that cannot be removed from the hive, another protection
mechanism is used. Bees "embalm" these foreign objects. They produce a
substance called "propolis (bee resin)" with which they carry out the
"embalming" process. Produced by adding special secretions to the resins
they collect from trees like pine, poplar and acacia, the bee resin is
also used to patch cracks in the hive. After being applied to the cracks
by the bees, the resin dries as it reacts with air and forms a hard surface.
Thus, it can stand against all kinds of external threats. Bees use this
substance in most of their work.
At this point, many questions spring to mind. Propolis has the feature
of not allowing any bacteria to live in it. This makes propolis an ideal
substance for embalming. How do bees know that this substance is an ideal
substance for embalming? How do bees produce a substance, which man can
only produce in laboratory conditions and with the use of technology if
he has a certain level of knowledge of chemistry? How do they know that
a dead insect causes bacteria production and that embalming will prevent
It is evident that the bee has neither any knowledge on this subject,
nor a laboratory in its body. The bee is only an insect 1-2 cm in size
and it only does that with which its Lord has inspired it.
MAXIMUM STORAGE WITH MINIMUM MATERIAL
Bees construct hives in which 80,000 bees can live and work together by
shaping small portions of beeswax.
The hive is made up of beeswax-walled honeycombs, which have hundreds of tiny
cells on each of their faces. All honeycomb cells are exactly the same
size. This engineering miracle is achieved by the collective work of thousands
of bees. Bees use these cells for food storage and the maintenance of
Bees have been using the hexagonal structure for the construction of
honeycombs for millions of years. (A bee fossil has been found dating
from 100 million years ago). It is astonishing that they have chosen a
hexagonal structure rather than an octagonal, or pentagonal. Mathematicians
give the reason: "the hexagonal structure is the most suitable geometric
form for the maximum use of unit area." If honeycomb cells were constructed
in another form, then there would be areas left unused; thus, less honey
would be stored, and fewer bees would be able to benefit from it.
As long as their depths are the same, a triangular or quadrangular cell
would hold the same amount of honey as a hexagonal cell. However, among
all these geometric forms, the hexagonal has the shortest circumference.
Whilst they have the same volume, the amount of wax required for hexagonal
cells is less than the amount of wax required for a triangular or quadrangular
The conclusion: hexagonal cells require minimal amounts of wax
in terms of construction while they store maximal amounts of honey. Bees
themselves surely cannot have calculated this result, obtained by man
after many complex geometrical calculations. These tiny animals use the
hexagonal form innately, just because they are taught and "inspired" so
by their Lord.
The hexagonal design of cells is practical in many respects. Cells fit
to one another and they share each other's walls. This, again, ensures
maximum storage with minimum wax. Although the walls of the cells are
rather thin, they are strong enough to carry a few times their own weight.
As well as in the walls of the sides of the cells, bees also take the
maximum saving principle into consideration while they construct the bottom
Combs are built as a slice with two rows lying back to back. In this
case, the problem of the junction point of two cells occurs. Constructing
the bottom surfaces of cells by combining three equilateral quadrangles
solves this problem. When three cells are built on one face of the comb,
the bottom surface of one cell on the other face is automatically constructed.
As the bottom surface is composed of equilateral quadrangular wax plaques,
a downward deepening is observed at the bottom of those cells made by
this method. This means an increase in the volume of the cell and, thus,
in the amount of honey stored.
OTHER CHARACTERISTICS OF HONEY COMB CELLS
Another point that bees consider during the construction of the honeycomb
is the inclination of cells. By raising cells 13 degree Centigrade13º on
both sides, they prevent the cells from being parallel to the ground. Thus,
honey does not leak out from the mouth of the cell.
While working, worker bees hang onto each other in circles and congregate together
in bunches. By doing this, they provide the necessary temperature for
wax production. Little sacks in their abdomens produce a transparent liquid,
which leaks out and hardens the thin wax layers. Bees collect the wax
with the little hooks on their legs. They put this wax into their mouths,
and chew and process it until it softens enough and so give it shape in
the cells. Many bees work together to ensure the required temperature
for the work place in order to keep the wax soft and malleable.
There is another interesting point to note: the construction of the honeycomb
starts from the upper side of the hive and continues simultaneously in
two or three separate rows downward. While a honeycomb slice expands in
two opposite directions, first the bottom of its two rows join. This process
is realised in an astonishing harmony and order. Therefore, it is never
possible to understand that the honeycomb actually consists of three separate
parts. The honeycomb slices, which started simultaneously from different
directions, are so perfectly arranged that, although there are hundreds
of different angles in its structure, it seems like one uniform piece.
For such a construction, bees need to calculate the distances between
the starting and connection points in advance and then design the dimensions
of the cells accordingly. How can such a delicate calculation be done
by thousands of bees? This has always impressed scientists.
It is obviously irrational to assume that bees have solved this task,
which man can hardly manage. There is such a delicate and detailed organisation
involved that it is impossible for them to carry it out on their own.
And in your creation and all the creatures
He has scattered about there are sings for people with certainity.(Surat
So how do they achieve this? An evolutionist would explain that this
event has been achieved by "instinct". However, what is the "instinct"
that can address thousands of bees at the same time and make them perform
a collective task? It would not be sufficient even if each bee acted on
its own "instinct", since what they do would necessarily have to be in
concordance with each other’s instincts in order to achieve this astonishing
result. Due to this, they must be directed by an "instinct" coming from
a unique source. Bees, who start constructing the hive from different
corners and then combine their separate tasks without leaving any gaps
and having all the cells constructed equally in a perfect hexagonal structure,
must certainly be receiving "instinctive" messages from the very same
The term "instinct" used above is "only a name" as mentioned in the Qur’an,
in the 40th verse of Surah Yusuf. It is of no use insisting on such "mere
names" in order to conceal clear truths. Bees are guided from a unique
source and thus they successfully come to perform tasks which they otherwise
would not be able to. It is not instinct, a term with no definition, that
guides bees but the "inspiration" mentioned in Surat an-Nahl. What these
tiny animals do is implement the programme that Allah has particularly
set for them.
HOW THEY DETERMINE THEIR DIRECTION
usually have to fly long distances and scan large areas to find food. They
collect flower pollens and the constituents of honey within a range of 800m
of the hive. A bee, which finds flowers, flies back to its hive to let others
know about their place, but how will this bee describe the location of the
flowers to the other bees in the hive?
By dancing!… The bee returning to the hive starts to perform a dance. This
dance is a means of expression, which it uses to tell the other bees the
location of the flowers. This dance, repeated many times by the bee, includes
all the information about the inclination, direction, distance and other
details of the food source that enable other bees to reach it.
dance is actually a figure "8" constantly repeated by the bee (see picture
above). The bee forms the middle part of the figure "8" by wagging its
tail and performing zigzags. The angle between the zigzags and the line
between the sun and the hive gives the exact direction of the food source
(see picture above).
However, knowing only the direction of the food source is not enough.
Worker bees also need to "know" how far they have to travel to collect
the ingredients for the honey, so, the bee returning from the flower source,
"tells" the other bees the distance of the flower pollens by means of
certain body movements. It does this by wagging the bottom part of its
body and creating air currents. For example, in order to "describe"
a distance of 250m, it wags the bottom part of its body 5 times in half
a minute. This way, the exact location of the source is made clear in
detail, both with respect to its distance and its orientation.
A new problem awaits the bee in those flights where the round trip to
the food source takes a long time. As the bee, who can only describe the
food source according to the direction of the sun, goes back to its hive,
the sun moves 1 degree every 4 minutes. Eventually, the bee will make
an error of 1 degree for each four minutes it spends on the way about
the direction of the food source of which it informs the other bees.
Astonishingly, the bee does not have such a problem! The bee's eye is
formed of hundreds of tiny hexagonal lenses. Each lens focuses on a very
narrow area just like a telescope does. A bee looking towards the sun
at a certain time of the day can always find its location while it flies.
The bee is reckoned to do this calculation by making use of the change
in the light emitted by the sun depending on the time of the day. Consequently,
the bee determines the direction of the target location without mistake
by making corrections in the information it gives in the hive as the sun
METHOD OF MARKING FLOWERS
When a flower has already been visited, the honeybee can understand that
another bee has earlier consumed the nectar of that flower, and leave the
flower immediately. This way, it saves both time and energy. Well, how does
the bee understand, without checking the flower, that the nectar has earlier
This is made possible because the bees which visited the flower earlier
marked it by leaving a drop on it with a special scent. Whenever a new
bee looks in on the same flower, it smells the scent and understands that
the flower is of no use and so goes on directly towards another flower.
Thus, bees do not waste time on the same flower.
THE MIRACLE OF HONEY
From their bellies comes a drink of varying
colours, containing healing for mankind… (Surat an-Nahl: 69)
Do you know how important a food source the honey is, which Allah offers
man by means of a tiny insect?
Honey is composed of sugars like glucose and fructose and minerals like
magnesium, potassium, calcium, sodium chlorine, sulphur, iron and phosphate.
It contains vitamins B1, B2, C, B6, B5 and B3 all of which change according
to the qualities of the nectar and pollen. Besides the above, copper,
iodine, and zinc exist in it in small quantities. Several kinds of hormones
are also present in it.
As Allah says in the Qur’an, honey is a "healing for men". This scientific
fact was confirmed by scientists who assembled during the World Apiculture
Conference held from 20-26 September 1993 in China. During the conference,
treatments with honey derivatives were discussed. American scientists
in particular said that honey, royal jelly, pollen and propolis (bee resin)
cure many diseases. A Romanian doctor stated that he tried honey on cataract
patients, and 2002 out of his 2094 patients recovered completely. Polish
doctors also informed the conference that bee resin helps to cure many
diseases such as haemorrhoids, skin problems, gynaecological diseases
and many other disorders.
Nowadays, apiculture and bee products have opened a new branch for research
in countries advanced in science. Other benefits of honey may be described
Easily digested: Because sugar molecules in honey can convert
into other sugars (e.g. fructose to glucose), honey is easily digested
by the most sensitive stomachs, despite its high acid content. It helps
kidneys and intestines to function better.
Has a low calorie level: Another quality of honey is that, when it is
compared with the same amount of sugar, it gives 40% less calories to
the body. Although it gives great energy to the body, it does not add
Rapidly diffuses through the blood: When accompanied by mild water,
honey diffuses into the bloodstream in 7 minutes. Its free sugar molecules
make the brain function better since the brain is the largest consumer
Supports blood formation: Honey provides an important part of
the energy needed by the body for blood formation. In addition, it helps
in cleansing the blood. It has some positive effects in regulating and
facilitating blood circulation. It also functions as a protection against
capillary problems and arteriosclerosis.
Does not accommodate bacteria: This bactericide (bacteria-killing)
property of honey is named "the inhibition effect". Experiments conducted
on honey show that its bactericide properties increase twofold when diluted
with water. It is very interesting to note that newly born bees in the
colony are nourished with diluted honey by the bees responsible for their
supervision - as if they know this feature of the honey.
Royal Jelly: Royal jelly is a substance produced by worker bees
inside the beehive. Inside this nutritious substance are sugar, proteins,
fats and many vitamins. It is used in problems caused by tissue deficiency
or body frailty.
It is obvious that honey, which is produced in much higher amounts than
the requirements of the bees, is made for the benefit of man. And it is
also obvious that bees cannot perform such an unbelievable task "on their
And He has made everything in the heavens
and everything in the earth subservient to you. It is all from Him.
There are certainly signs in that for people who reflect.
(Surat al-Jathiyah: 13)