Evolution of honeycomb design

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by MattyDigs, Jul 30, 2013.

  1. MattyDigs

    MattyDigs Member

    Very simple question. Is there any evidence (fossils trapped in amber, anything) that honeycomb designs were ever at any point in time anything but hexagonal? Thank you for your time.
  2. Tyrsonswood

    Tyrsonswood Senior Moment

    I don't think so... The second most prevalent mineral, Quartz is 6 sided when in crystal form. Not saying that is connected but it could just come down to an earth frequency that we aren't tuned into as much as bees are.

  3. MattyDigs

    MattyDigs Member

    Does this put a huge dent in evolution or what? I mean, surely something as common to trees as beehives (im thinking most likely, a very small upstart hive) would have been encased in amber and therefore be known about, right?

    Because when you really think about it, It doesn't get any more perfect for what they are doing than the hexagon and to think that they were making hexagonal honeycombs right out the gate... in my mind that points to intelligent design. But I'm not about to jump to the conclusion quite yet. Would like to get some feedback here.
  4. MeAgain

    MeAgain Dazed and Confused Staff Member Super Moderator

    Darwin and others addressed this issue through observation of species that construct round objects and experimentation with those that construct hexagonal ones.

    Here are a couple quotes from The Evolution of Honeycomb.

    Check out the whole article, very informative.
    Here's some more from another place....

  5. MattyDigs

    MattyDigs Member

    Ok, so how did they know to build in circles in the first place? I think that's pretty amazing that the first bees knew to do this from their very inception. As far as the simpler forms that were part of, and the 'failed' designs that died off and ceased to be part of, the evolutionary cycle, where's any evidence for this? Darwin offered conjecture on this but no proof.

    As far as I can tell there is 0 proof for honeycomb design having undergone any evolution whatsoever. I'm sure I may be proven wrong at any moment, but for now, I take this stance.
  6. NoxiousGas

    NoxiousGas Old Fart

    Evolution and intelligent design are not mutually exclusive.
    Whenever you understand that, the pieces start to fall into place more consistently.

    The final geometry of the honeycomb is what is intriguing from an engineering standpoint.
    So you think that essentially by trial and error bees arrived at the strongest geometrical shape for the structure/purpose of hives?
    So when/how did this new info become encoded into the bee DNA?
    It would have to be in one, maybe two generations because if it is happenstance that a certain hive hits on this particular structure that the hive doesn't collapse as it gains mass, when they fail that magic geometry, the hive most likely will perish, or at least not thrive.

    So the question ultimately becomes one of how, when and how quickly do new behaviors become encoded into the DNA to become instinctual behaviors, not learned and as such further the evolution of that species.
    That is the thin line, or one of them, that has to be divined before any concept of evolution can be considered completely devoid of any overall a'priori design or intelligent direction.

    If new behaviors can be learned and encoded quickly enough that the new information is biologically stable within a few generations, than evolution on it's own may stand.
    But I don't believe that is what we observe.

    Take Ebola virus for example. It's stuck in it's own loop of being too efficient of a killer and as such is destined to remain evolutionarily "stuck".
    It tends to kill it's host faster than the host can spread the virus, so it doesn't spread any one generation very far, and it kills it's host so fast it has little time or opportunity to mutate any further.
    It's stuck in a kind of genetic loop.

    I think, I could be all wrong, but I believe I have a fair grasp of the situation.
  7. driftwood_74

    driftwood_74 Level 88

    Sorry Matty, the truth is just a simple google search away: http://www.ambericawest.com/honeycomb.html

    It may not be from a bee but it is a hexagonal comb in amber.
  8. MattyDigs

    MattyDigs Member

    Interesting food for thought. You say the hive would surely perish with a less than optimal design, correct? I do not. If it were triangles, or squares, it would be less efficient and structurally sound but I believe it could still carry on. Here's a guess: In this case, rather than building one giant hive, they would build multiple smaller hives. I am no scientist though, obviously.
  9. MattyDigs

    MattyDigs Member

    As far as I can tell, this just gives more creedence to my theory. The idea being that the shape has remain virtually unchanged through time and was used from the inception of wasps, bees, whatever.

    Edit: There is no mention of when this amber is from? This could be from like 50 years ago or something for all I know. I assumed it was ancient.
  10. NoxiousGas

    NoxiousGas Old Fart

    Just consider the wide array of animal behaviors we consider instinctual and if evolution were solely the answer to the development of species, then it would appear that the process and speed by which animals encode learned behavior into the genetic blueprint has slowed/changed considerably.

    But as I first said, evolution and intelligent design are not mutually exclusive.
    In fact if you subscribe to evolution then you of a neccasity must also subscribe to some degree of "intelligent design" guiding that evolutionary path.

    You don't have to call it God, but the are aspects of evolution that go counter to other observed "laws" of the universe.

    Entropy for example.
    Most all natural process, left to themselves, will decay eventually.
    Things tend to go from states of higher organization to states of lower organization or disorganization. That's what happens when the orbit of a planet decays and it falls into it's sun, or when an apple rots. Same thing, entropy.

    Why does evolution not follow this universal law?
    Why does life take systems from states of lower complexity to states of higher complexity?

    Is life itself the "intelligence" designing things as we go along?

    Evolution sounds all warm and cozy, but I suspect there are some holes in that blanket. ;)
  11. NoxiousGas

    NoxiousGas Old Fart

    yeah, that was my impression.
  12. MattyDigs

    MattyDigs Member

    You and I both, friend. Thank you for contributing :)

    p.s. - I never went into this with the mindset of 'evolution is bs' it was more along the lines of your thinking that there has got be something else to this, it just doesn't make sense otherwise.
  13. MattyDigs

    MattyDigs Member

    Some further thought on this subject made me realize that this behavior could have been passed down genetically from the ancestors of wasps, bees. Maybe from their ancestors ancestors and perhaps further up the line could be seen evidence of more primitive/simpler forms of nests. I did some googling and the oldest ancestor of bees/wasps that has been found was Melittosphex burmensis. This is where the line stops and if part of one of their hives was ever found (or even part of a hive of the 2nd oldest species was ever found - Cretotrigona prisca), then I can't find any info on it. But if anyone knows what the ancestors to those species are, then please speak up. I was hoping I could trace it back to something that didn't even look or act like a bee. Maybe some ground-crawling ancient insect or something but alas, I didn't find any info on that.

    Basically, this whole conversation was thoroughly interesting and illuminative but has travelled into areas that are either out of our expertise (such as my theory that different shapes ((triangle,square, anything other than the circle/hexagon)) of honeycomb could potentially be sustainable for the population and potentially carry on) or that are simply a mystery to all at this current time (like what I mention at the top of this post). I wish we could take this further but it doesn't look like it's possibe. I really appreciate the feedback and I thank you all for contributing.
  14. MattyDigs

    MattyDigs Member

    Just curious, how do you come to this conclusion that it has slowed down and/or changed?
  15. MeAgain

    MeAgain Dazed and Confused Staff Member Super Moderator

    There is no genetic coding needed for shape.

    A single bee remains in a stationary position as it builds a cell by evacuating and or adding wax. It rotates about the axis of its head. This results in a circular structure. The only encoding needed is to remain stationary, rotate, build, and do not destroy another cell. There is no encoding for the shape. A circular shape will always occur. The size of the circular cell is determined by the size of the bee. As all construction bees are relatively the same size, all cells are the same relative size. A single bee will always build a round cell.

    When multiple bees construct a cellular structure, they build in the same manner. However when they encounter another cell, or another cell being built by another bee, a wall is constructed to separate the two circular cells either by adding or removing wax. This will always result in a straight line as a straight line is the shortest distant between the intersection points of the two cells.

    As all cells are the same relative size there will always be six cells surrounding one cell as bees build in a radial pattern, unless a side is left untouched by another cell which results, as shown in the picture, with part of the outer wall of the cell retaining its original curved edge.

    There is no evolutionary advantage to the shape and no other shapes are possible with the skills the bee possesses.
  16. MattyDigs

    MattyDigs Member

    Yet it just happens to be perfect in every way. I don't know if there is an evolutionary advantage because I see no evidence of evolution to the shape. There most certainly is an advantage to the shape. From it's strength to resisting crushing to it's strength in hanging on to it's efficiency. It's perfect in every way. For what they are doing , it doesn't get much better. And you're going to say it's just happenstance? C'mon man.
  17. driftwood_74

    driftwood_74 Level 88

    Just because there is currently no evidence for the evolution of the design (i.e., no fossil record of gradual change) this does not in and of itself, mean that the evolution did not occur. You would expect bee wax to be difficult to preserve, let alone find.
  18. MattyDigs

    MattyDigs Member

    Normally, I would completely agree with you but given how often they are found in ancient amber (because bees and trees go together like flies on shit) ... I say no. But I agree, they just may not have found the 'missing link' yet. However, in this particular case there is a pretty decent chance they would have already. That being said, my mind is not set in stone at this. It is possible evolution could have occurred.
  19. MeAgain

    MeAgain Dazed and Confused Staff Member Super Moderator

    Darwin found
    So I was wrong there. But there is no intellegence or intellegent design needed to form the hexagons,
  20. MeAgain

    MeAgain Dazed and Confused Staff Member Super Moderator

    Naturally occurring hexagonal shapes.


    Giants Causeway Ireland

    North polar hexagonal cloud feature on Saturn.

    Crystal structure of a molecular hexagon.



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