A few hours ago I was in another, more suffocating place, together with sixty or so sisters of mine, sisters-to-be. We all set out on a journey. Passing through a corridor to which doors are opened from hundreds of cells such as those we had just left and into which eggs like me were rolling, we reached a crossroads. At just that point, something very agile and smaller even than me entered into me. A little later I found myself within the six walls of a cell.
If you could become so small as a particle of air, you would be astonished at what you see. Molecules compete in me: they combine and separate from one another, take on new forms, curve and move here and there. In short, I am being prepared for a new life; whatever will be necessary for this life is encoded in me. I have begun to be equipped with such information as would take you many years to acquire.
Day 4- I am no longer an egg, and not yet a honeybee. I have left my shell, and now look like a worm. I am called a larva. You will be amazed to learn that I have completed the age of my education. While you are first born and then learn, we first learn and then are born. All the information I will use during my life has been encoded in the brain within my head. Now I am busy eating to grow so as to make use of this information. All the food I need reaches me continually as if pouring down from the sky.
Day 5 - I had 1300 meals yesterday. I am constantly eating. I must eat another 10.000 meals. I eat a sort of jelly extremely rich in vitamins and proteins and prepared by our elder sisters. Although it is the prerogative of the queen bee to eat this jelly, it is given also to us in this period of our growth. I have grown five times heavier than yesterday. My head is more visible, and the three sections of my future body. My antennae are about to appear, but my legs have not yet begun to do so. There are ten air- holes around my body through which I breathe. My stomach is still in the form of a closed sac.
Day 6 - It was a little cool last night. All the bees in the hive crowded onto the comb and throbbed to produce heat. We need a temperature of about 35 C if we are to grow. As well as feeding us, it is again our elder sisters who ensure we are warm enough. When it is cool, they throb to warm us; when it is too hot, they cool us by beating their wings.
Day 7- Our menu has changed today. In place of the jelly-liked food, we are given a food prepared with honey and pollen. I have grown so fat that I nearly cover more than half of my cell.
Day 9-They have stopped giving us food. They have covered the ceiling of my cell with wax. However, I do not feel forsaken in the cell. I feel there is someone who is caring for all my needs. It is as if He whispered to me that it is He Who always feeds me and that I simply do not need feeding for a certain time.
Day 10- It is as if the One Who whispered to me yesterday, whispered again that He has installed silk ‘machines’ in my head and that I should set them to operate. My secretion glands get to work and thin threads of silk come out of my mouth. I knit a silk cocoon around me. This is the first thing I have done since the beginning of my life. I am not called a larva any more, but a pupa.
Day 15 (your May 20) - Over the last week I have grown to look more like a bee. My eyes and antennae have started to appear. My head has grown. The first section of my abdomen has been added to my chest. My wings and three pairs of legs continue to grow out from my body.
Day 20 - I am a perfectly- formed honeybee. I have a head with antennae, eyes, a tongue, jaws, and legs, wings and a sting. I am a female bee; my brain is bigger than that of either the queen bee or the male bees. My legs and wings are fixed to my body and made up of many muscles. My abdomen has been arranged in a way to do the tasks of both digestion and secretion.
Day 21 - I was ordered to leave my cell. I opened the seal with my jaws and went out. I am looking at my environment. My home that I see for the first time is not strange to me. I do know what I am to do but I need some time to adjust my body to my tasks.
I see some other bees also leaving their cells. They must be my sisters that started the journey of their lives at the same time as I did. Cells are opened and as the new bees clamber out, the comb resembles a place of gathering.
My legs work but as yet my four wings do not. I stand on my feet with claws which have sticking organs. I keep my balance by means of the hairs on my body which inform my brain of the position of the parts of my body according to the gravitation.
The lower parts of my front legs will serve as a brush to remove from my eyes the dust which will stick to them as I fly around flowers. On the same front legs I also have other stick-like brushes to clean my antennae. I have instruments on my middle legs to collect the wax I will secrete from my body. There are sacs on my back legs to store the pollen that I am to collect.
I look at my sisters and see on the upper part of their heads three tiny eyes and two larger ones on their sides. The tiny eyes see polarized light, while the larger ones are sensitive to ultraviolet rays. We bees cannot see red. We cannot see the environment crisply delineated, we see it as a dim design of colours. We see most distinctly at the distance of touching.
Whatever I will need has all been installed in my body. I have a tongue to suck water and nectar, and antenae to touch and smell and a sting to defend myself. In addition, I have an environment to live in comfortably. All this cannot have been arranged by the things themselves around me. I did not arrange it myself. So, there must be One Who knows both me, my needs and my environment and Who brings me into existence for the tasks I am to do. He must have infinite knowledge and power.
I am starting to work today. We work according to a strict division of labour. What falls on me today is to do cleaning. Our comb is perfectly clean and tidy.
Day 22-I have continued to do cleaning. I know my hive and sisters better than before. We have a very crowded population, we are about 40.000 bees. About 1500 new sisters have joined us today.
We can measure the length of days and know the coming of summer. Summer is coming.
Day 23 - Today I have been promoted to nurse. I am looking after larvae of 4-6 days. I partly digest in my stomach some of the food brought to me by elder bees and make bread of honey to feed the larvae.
Day 24 - A new factory has started to work in my body today. I have just begun using a secretion gland in my throat.
Thousands of elder bees offer us the pollen they collect and honey they make and we thousands of younger bees, crowd around cells and feed the larvae. A perfect mutual helping prevails in our comb.
Day 26 - I am extremely busy. I make royal jelly using the gland I began working two days ago and offer it to the larvae which eat 1300 meals a day. As you remember, I was also fed this when I was a larva.
Day 29 (your June 3) - The larvae I am feeding today are of a different kind. They are in cells a little bigger than ours. It will take 26 days for them to leave their cells as male bees.
Day 30 - I have been promoted to cook. I make honey from the nectar my elders collect from flowers and store it in cells.
The honey I make is composed of water, sucrose and glucose and is very rich in vitamins. It contains enzymes to digest carbo-hydrates. It is very delicious and healthful. Some part of the honey I make may come to your table one day. I will have died by the time you are eating it. You have no obligation at all to remember me, but do not forget the One Who provides you with it through me and thank Him.
Day 32 - Thousands of bees die in our comb every day and other thousands are born. This happens in so orderly a way that no confusion is seen.
There is one among us without whom it is impossible for things to be in order in our comb-the queen. She is a bit larger than us and was programmed to do things different from what we do. She cannot collect nectar nor make honey, nor feed the larvae. She cannot feed herself either. We, her daughters, feed her with the royal jelly we offer to the young larvae.
The queen bee lays eggs. She must lay around 2000 eggs every day, for our lifespan is very short. While we are feeding her, she lets us taste from a substance she produces. We go round the comb and so cause all female bees to taste that substance by which a kind of birthcontrol is secured in the comb. On the day we do not taste it, we all begin to lay eggs. Since those eggs are not fertilized, only male bees come from them. Male bees have no task other than inseminating the queen bee. Their number is quite limited. If they were to be too many, the order in our comb would collapse.
Day 35 - A new factory has started to work in my body today. This factory installed in the back, lower part of my abdomen produces wax. I collect that wax with the sticks on my middle legs and chew it to mould it into the cells of the comb.
The cells we make are hexagonal in shape, because, compared with the amount of the wax used to build them, as much honey as possible can be stored in them. Also, a hexagonal form is most resistant to external forces. We make 35 thousand cells from half a kilo of wax and store 10 kilos of honey in them. We need three and a half kilos of honey to make half a kilo of wax.
We make cells in different forms according to need. While making them, we take gravitation into account. For example, the cells where the female worker bees lie horizontally form a vertical layer, while the cells where future queen bees lie vertically are parallel to the earth surface. The cells where male bees grow are bigger than those of the females. As you certainly understand, it is impossible for us and for any other things in nature, including what some of you call natural forces, to know and arrange all these things. There must be One Who does it. One Who knows us together with our relation with our environment and employs us in many important tasks.
Day37 (your June 11)- So far, I have left my comb on many occasions but only to throw out the waste matter and had opportunities to see the outer world from afar. Today I left my comb but not to discard waste but to fly around the comb, to obtain knowledge of the outer world.
Flying is very tiring for us. Unlike birds, we do not flap wings. When we start to fly, our wings move automatically in a way to make 250 complete turns in a second. While flying, our front and back wings are bound to each other.
When we start to fly, our wings curve along certain lines in a way to adjust our body to the air current. They draw a figure-of-8 shape in the air. In proportion to the size of our wings, our bodies are heavy (unlike birds which fly). They grow heavier when we collect nectar from flowers. Despite this, we can fly 15 kilometres an hour.
Like our flying, our landing is also miraculous. Unlike birds and your planes, we do not need to decrease our speed before we land. Thanks to the tips of our legs, while flying in the air, we can immediate- my alight wherever we want.
Since our wings move at extremely high speed, our need for fuel is high. Our muscles have a metabolic rate ten times faster than the heart of a man. We consume sugar as fuel. Before we start a journey, we take enough ‘fuel’. However, if the amount of sugar in our blood reduces to 1 per cent, we obtain new food wherever we are.
Day 38 - My new task is keeping guard at the entrance of the comb. No one, not even other bees, are allowed to tenter our comb. We know one another by our smell. The smell of each community of honeybees is different. Our antennae distinguish between the smells very well. The entrance of our comb is also marked with the smell particular to our community. Any other creature which does not carry our semll is prevented from entering.
Day 39-There have been some changes in the comb. The cells of about a dozen larvae have been made bigger and turned vertical. The larvae in them will be fed with royal jelly until they become pupae.
The queen bee has accelerated laying eggs. She lays about 2000 eggs a day.
Day 41 - Now I am a fully mature honeybee. I will no longer do the housework because the factories in my body producing royal jelly and wax have stopped. From now, I will spend my days collecting nectar from flowers.
Today it was my first flight outside. When I flew far away from the comb, I found myself surrounded by a design of colours. The scents coming from all around nearly caused me to faint. Flowers attract us by their colours and smells. They have structures arranged as if to serve as platforms for our landing. When we land on them, we pass our tongues into the source of nectar in their centres. Meanwhile pollen from the flowers clings to the hairs on our bodies giving them the look of prickly sticks. We leave some of this pollen on other flowers we visit and thereby assist i the pollination of flowers. But for this service we perform, you would not enjoy the benefit from fruit-bearing trees such as peach, apple, pear, almond and plum.
We do not visit flowers at random. Whatever kind of flowers we visit first, we continue to visit the same kind in the same environment. If we did otherwise we would be carrying pollen of other kinds of flowers and therefore waste the pollen, uselessly.
We are mostly attracted by blue. However, we also visit flowers of other colours except red. Red flowers do business with butterflies.
We do not see flowers in the same colour as you see them. Only the nectar containing central parts of the flowers you see as yellow appear to us as yellow to attract us to you see as white appear to us as coloured. In short, when we go on a journey to collect nectar, we do not look for them. Flowers themselves smile to us and attract us.
Day 42 - I have spent today also among flowers. If you had followed, you would have seen that I visited around twenty flowers in a minute and as many as 20,000 by evening. I stored the nectar in my stomach and the pollen in the sacs on my back legs.
Since our return is difficult because of our load, we follow a direct way called the line of bees. Even if we pass through places unknown to us, we always follow that direct way. It is extremely easy for us to establish it. The place and position of the sun gives us our direction, Of course, the sun has changed position while we are visiting flowers. That is no matter at all. You cannot compete with us when it comes to calculating the exact place and position of the sun at any time of the day. If you kept me in a dark place and then released me hours later, it would not take me more than a few moments to find my direction. We use the atmospheric polarization and find the place of the sun by means of any little light coming from any corner of the sky. We have been doing this calculation for millions of years but you have come to know it only in the last forty years.
We cannot make our way only on completely dark days and therefore we do not go out on those days. We stay in and are busy with the work in the comb.
Day 44 - We are a big anonymous company with its tens of thousands of partners and personnel, agents, boards of directors, awesone storage and processing establishments and a well-developed communications network. We pursue big markets to do business.
We do big business. Many other insects, flies and butterflies visit the flowers with which we do business. However, when we find a profitable source, we rush toward it as an army of 10 or 20 or 30 thousand bees.
Five per cent of our population are responsible for finding a market. They constantly search big markets and we evaluate the markets they have found. If, for example, one of our friends finds a market of one million flowers in the morning, you will see their nectar and pollen transferred into our depots in a few hours.
Our cummunication system works perfectly. Let me describe this to you with an example.
It was nearly noon. One of the elder bees entered the hive in great excitement. Other grown-up bees crowded around it.
From the smell of the pollen on its body we could understand what kind of a source it had found. We tasted the nectar it threw up onto the comb from its mouth. It was a bit more watery than it should be. However, we had to take into account the heat outside and the fact that that sample had been collected in early morning. The amount of sugar in nectar in morning hours is less than at other times. In short, the kind and quality of the nectar seemed OK. But we did not yet know the location of the source and whether it was a rich site, nor how far away it was.
Our friend immediately began to dance. A few bees near it and I held on to it to follow its movements. While dancing, it uttered some sounds which meant that the source was rich, and drew a figure 8 over the comb, completing a turn in 15 seconds, which meant that the source was 10 kilometres away. Our friend was dancing according to gravitation. While drawing the line in the middle of 8, it made an angle of 28 to the right. Since we always take the sun to be at an angle of 90, the source our friend described was 62 to the right of the sun.
The information our friend gave to us was for a still, windless day. However, it was windy when we left the hive and therefore, taking into account the direction and strength of the wind, we corrected the angle given to us.
Day 47 - Our population has recently increased. We are about 60.000 bees. Our hive is not enough to accommodate all of us. Preparations made over the preceding few weeks mean that some of us will move to another place.
Day 50 (your June 25) - Male bees have left their cells in which they had been fed for some time. For the time being, they have nothing to do in the hive.
About a dozen larvae have been specially fed for some weeks. We feed in this way more larvae than needed. The first among them to leave its cell becomes the queen and, since there cannot be more than one queen in a hive, she immediately seeks out the cells where other candidates are and destroys them.
The new queen will spend the first few days of her life eating honey to gain strength. Afterwards, she will set off on the mating flight. During this flight which lasts a few days, she will store up in a special section in her body the sperms she will have taken from six or so male bees in sufficient amount to fertilize the one million or so eggs she will lay during her life. If the hive needs male bees, the queen closes the mouth of that section and the eggs she lays pass into the cells of the comb prepared for the male bees without being inseminated.
Two days after her return from the mating, she begins to lay eggs.
Day 51 - Today at noon, about 15,000 of us, left our hive. Before departure, we filled our stomachs fully with honey. We will use it to build the comb in our new home.
It was a great responsibility. If we made a mistake in choosing the site of a new home, it might result in the end of the community.
We made a detailed search of all the places that looked suitable for a new home.
Returning to the cluster, we began to dance to inform one another about the places we had found. A consultative system prevails in bee communities. No one forces its opinion upon others. So, we follow carefully each other’s dance. If the idea of one among us seems to another better than its own, it copies that one’s dance. In this way, as the dance spreads, a consensus is formed.
The hole or opening we prefer for home must be of a volume of at least 15 litres. For we must put by at least ten kilos of honey for winter. We do not choose openings of a volume of more than 100 litres, for it is almost impossible to heat them. The entrance must be at least two metres above the ground and face south. The home must be dry, without wet. If any moisture leaks through the walls, we cover them with the resin of trees. We do not decide on a place after a single search. We repeat searches several times to be certain of the suitability of a particular site.
Day 52 - As yesterday, today too, we could not agree on a particular site to establish our new home.
Day 53 - We have found two other places. After comparisons and new researches, we have been pleased with two of them.
Day 54- We found new places today. Many of the surveyors began to dance the same dance but unanimity was not achieved.
Day 55 - We have to make a choice. If we fail to reach an agreement, though it happens rarely, we will end up making our home in a bush. This means death.
We have looked at 29 possible sites, of which we have chosen one to the south-east after a last visit to it of the explorers. We rushed into the cluster of bees who have been waiting for days. They were as if dead. Slowly, we managed to move them. First they began movements to get warm. The temperature of the muscles has to reach 36 C. At last, a humming began. Those which had got warm enough began leaving the cluster. In a minute all the bees took flight. When they had formed a cylinder with a diameter of 10 metres, we advanced to the front to lead the others. Flying at a speed of more than 10 kilometres an hour, we reached our new home. Before entering, we marked the entrance with the smell of our community.
First we cleaned the site of all the rubbish and then covered the fissures with the resin we collected from trees. Afterwards, we began to build a comb. The pioneering columns scattered round to collect nectar. A new community of beas has been established by the end of the day.
Day 58-It is very hot. Some among us have set up an air-condition system at the entrance of the hive. They cool the hive by moving their wings.
I left the pioneering column. I collect water driblets and carry them to the hive.
Day 60- I am old and worn out, ready to retire. Besides the tasks I did in the hive, I have flown more than 2000 kilometers to provide you with the best of food, as it is ordered and inspired in me by my Creator:
You Lord inspired in the bee: Build your homes in hills, on trees, and in what they (men) construct. Then eat of all the produce (fruit and flowers of the earth), and set out on the ways of your Lord submissively (to Him). From their stomachs issues a drink of varying colours, wherein is healing for men. Surely in this a sign for those who reflect. (Qur’an, 16.68-9)
I have produced 50 grams of honey. Do not despise this for we, the population of a hive, make 200,000 flights a day and produce one kilo of honey. You, all human beings, could not produce or make even a single gram of it even if you all helped one another.
We make honey for your benefit but do not expect any return for it. We fulfil our duty of servant hood to our Creator. It is He Who employs us to offer to you the best of food by means of us. So, you must know Him and thank Him.