Natural History | 1960 | Sound | Colour
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Bees. Includes remarkable slow motion film 1960's
Bees communication and bees dance to show direction of a good food source. Contrast this with disorder of man's life. The solution for mankind is to find God and become religious.
This film examines in scientific detail the life of the bee, which appears to be perfect in many ways. The community works together to produce an efficient organisation whereby every member knows the work it has to do and is industrious in performing its duties. Perhaps we should strive to imitate the beehive in our lives. However, the bee has no moral concern for its neighbour – those too weak or ill to work are killed off, as is the queen when her work is done.
We have the advantage of knowledge of the Bible, in which we are pointed towards a better, fuller life.
A bee is going from plant to plant and then into a hole. The honeybee has been called the most important insect in the world. It has been studied more closely than any other creature apart from man. In universities and laboratories around the world there are 30,000 books and articles and there have been ten years of study at the Moody Institute, but all this barely scratches the surface.
The bee is a social creature with problems similar to those of man. Any hive must be kept clean and hygienic, as with the home of man, to keep the risk of infection and epidemic at bay. Cells are cleaned after use. The hive must also be air-conditioned. The daily outside temperature is a problem. The bees will die if the temperature is too cold or too hot. The antennae of the bee are able to recognise a change of temperature of just half a degree farenheit. If too cold, the bees will take on board honey to increase the warmth. In their thousands the bees will cause the temperature to rise. If the air is too hot, the bees will fan their wings to cool the inside temperature. On a hot July day, the temperature outside will take a rapid rise, but the bees will control the air inside to maintain a constant temperature.
If people wish to travel, their credentials are examined carefully at border controls. Similarly in a hive, the guard bees will challenge every visitor who comes along. Each hive has a distinctive odour and the guards will know whether a visitor is a friend or foe. Aliens are ejected. If bees are carrying nectar, they will be allowed in, regardless. A wasp trying to get in to rob the hive will be stung to death, as will a caterpillar which chanced upon the hive.
An experiment puts out a saucer of sugared water. Nothing happens for a day or two until it is noticed by a scout bee. Many bees then arrive at the source of feed, but how do they know it is there? Thousands of experiments have been carried out by Dr.Karl von Frisch. He noticed that, through the motions and sounds of the bees’ behaviour, complicated messages are sent out to other bees. A dance indicates the sugar content of the food. The angle of the bee’s body shows the direction in which the food can be found. Movements away from the sun point to the direction. The angle of the dance is crucial. A bee has a compass built into its eye. Each eye has 5,000 separate elements the patterns of which change with the sun. The distance to the food is important also. Bees have been shown telling of sources of food three tenths of a mile away. A bee can fly at 15 miles per hour, according to the wind.
Another experiment shows three feeders, one near a stream, another near a grove, the third beside a fence. The bees are marked according to which feeder they discover. Scouts go back to the hive. Other bees gather around sensing from the scouts. They are all marked and it is discovered that they visit only the feeders they have been told about.
The dance of the bees is a briefing session for other bees. The bees accept this. Bees carry only enough fuel for the destination about which they have been told. If she runs out of fuel she will die; if she has too much fuel she will be too heavy to reach her goal. She will be given sugared water or honey to make the journey and accuracy is very important. This system is extremely efficient. In one year 247,000,000 lbs of honey is harvested in the USA, apart from the additional amount used by the bees themselves.
Bees also visit flowers to collect pollen, which they bring back to the hive. This is necessary for the rearing of the young. Each developing bee needs ten loads of pollen. Plants need bees too. Going from flower to flower, the bee cross-pollinates the plants, an essential process for the survival of the plant species. A bee will always stick to the same species of plant. Bees are such successful pollinators that hives are transported to fields and orchards where the bees help to increase the yields of fruit.
Bees need large wing areas to carry their loads of pollen. In order to work inside a cell the wing must require hardly any space at all. Planes have similar problems. On an aircraft carrier, where space is at a premium, a plane’s wings have been designed to fold in by means of hinges. A bee has four wings, two on each side. When not in use they can overlap and be held against the body. For flight, the winds are hooked together forming a larger wing. Larger wings have great lifting power to enable the bee to carry a load of 100% of the weight of its own body.
The population of a bee city varies throughout the year. A population of 80,000 will shrink to 15,000 and then build up again. This is population control is no accident. A queen produces twice her weight in eggs in a single day. The queen herself has no control over the amount she lays. A group of workers known as nurses will feed her. The more she feeds, the more she lays and this will control the population. She lays one egg in each cell. The grub never leaves its cell. Food is brought by the nurse bees. It takes 10,000 visits to raise one bee. The cell is then closes with a porous film of wax. Inside, the larva makes a cocoon and grows, eventually emerging as a bee.
Nurses control not only the number but the type too. There are three types – one queen, 200-300 drones or males, and thousands of workers. Some are fed an abundant supply of royal jelly and these larvae develop into queens. The cells enlarge. A piping sound warns other queen to prepare for battle. They fight until only one remains.
The honeycomb is an amazing structure. Beeswax is made of honey. The bees gorge themselves then make a ‘daisy chain’, each clinging to the one above. Hooks on the end of each leg make a living ladder. After 24 hours wax appears on the abdomen. This transfers to the mouth and the liquid bubbles from which a comb is built. Honeycomb is economical to build
and strong, yet is made of wax. A cylinder would be a good shape but the units will not fit together successfully and they waste space. A triangle, pentagon or square shapes all have disadvantages, but the hexagon is best, using the least material, being the strongest and fitting together perfectly. The largest grain store in USA copies this structure. The structural shape of a honeycomb cannot be bettered as a technical and mechanical success.
The bee has been successful where a man has not. The bee is a social creature. There is no employer, no strikes, no management problems, no crime, no juvenile delinquency, no rebellion against authority.
In a man’s world there is confusion, so should we model our society on the social structure of the life of the bee?
The bee is efficient, but utterly ruthless. There is no need for a pension plan. The queen is killed when no longer needed. The individual is nothing: the state is supreme. This is an atheistic society. It assumes no standard of right or wrong. Man should strive to follow the ten commandments laid out in the bible in order to achieve a perfect society. We are not locked in to a pattern as are bees because God has offered us free choice and we must make the step of faith to free ourselves from the slavery of sin. God offers to link Man with himself in a warm, vital relationship. Man is incurably religious, unlike any in the animal kingdom. Without God, man is incomplete, insecure
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