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How honeycombs build themselves

18 July 2013

The honeybee comb is a most studied natural cellular structure. The rounded hexagonal shape of its cells has intrigued natural scientists philosophers for millennia who have suggested many explanations some of which would need the bees to have an uncanny ability to perform mathematical calculations or the magical quality to measure lengths and angles.

Now research from Cardiff University's School of Engineering published in Journal of the Royal Society Interface has found that the cells in a natural honeybee comb have a circular shape at "birth" but quickly transform into the familiar rounded hexagonal shape while the comb is being built and the research shows how this transformation takes place.

For interview contact: Professor Bhushan Karihaloo, Cardiff University, School of Engineering, (029) 2087 4934

Notes to editors:

The paper published today can be read at:

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities.  Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, University Chancellor Professor Sir Martin Evans.  Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise encompasses: the College of Humanities and Social Sciences; the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences; and the College of Physical Sciences, along with a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Cardiff's three flagship Research Institutes are offering radical new approaches to neurosciences and mental health, cancer stem cells and sustainable places.