Life in The Beehive
Bees constitute a number of families, with some 20,000 species. They possess the most astonishing knowledge of engineering and architecture in the animal kingdom, stand out from many other creatures in terms of their social lives, and amaze scientists who study their means of communication.
The bees dealt with in this book possess rather different properties from other insect species. They live in colonies, building their nests in tree trunks or similar closed areas. A bee colony consists of a queen, a few hundred males, and from 10,000 to 80,000 workers. Of these three very different-looking bees, two—the queen and the workers—are female.
There is one queen to each colony, and she is much larger in size than the other bees. Her main task is to lay eggs. Reproduction can take place only by means of the queen, and no other females are able to mate with the drone males. In addition to laying eggs, the queen also secretes important communicative substances that maintain the unity of the colony and the working of the various systems inside it.
The drones are larger than the female workers, though they lack stings and the necessary organs to collect food for themselves. Their only function is to fertilize the queen. The worker bees perform all such other tasks that you might imagine, including making the waxen combs in the hive, gathering food, producing royal jelly, regulating the temperature in the hive, cleaning it of debris and defending it.
There is order in every phase of the life in the beehive. Every task, from the care of the larvae to meeting the general needs of the nest, is performed to the full. This can be seen more clearly when we detail the care and altruistic behavior that the other bees display to their young.
How Bees Care for Their Young
The young of some creatures require greater care than the young of others. In particular, creatures that reach adulthood via various stages, such as the egg, larva and pupa of a moth or butterfly, require a different form of care at each stage.
Bees also go through a number of growth stages. Young bees reach adulthood by completing their larval and pupal stages. Throughout this period, which begins with the queen laying her eggs, bees take great care of their developing young.
All responsibility for caring for the larvae falls to the worker bees in the hive, which prepare incubation cells in a region specially set aside in the combs where the queen can lay her eggs. The queen bee comes here, and after checking the cleanliness and suitability of each cell, she deposits one egg in it and moves on.
Once the conditions essential to the development of the eggs have been met, a great many other factors must be organized, including meeting the food needs of the larvae that will hatch from them, the stabilization of the cell temperature, and special recurring inspections of the cells. The worker bees take great care of the larva, and employ intricate methods to do so.
The Worker Bees’ Special Care of the Larvae
After about three days, the eggs that the queen placed into the cells with enormous sensitivity hatch and white, maggotlike larvae emerge.1 These hatchlings have no eyes, wings or legs. They bear no resemblance to bees at all.
The worker bees feed the newly-hatched larvae with great care and selflessness. In fact, it has been established that worker bees will visit any single larva some 10,000 times during its period of growth.2 For the first three days after they hatch, the larvae are fed on royal jelly. During this larval stage, the young bees are fed constantly and undergo their greatest physical development. As a result of their regular feeding during this phase, the larvae’s weight increases by up to 1,500 times in only six days.3
In the hive, there are thousands of larvae, and as many worker bees to look after them. These nurse bees are in a constant state of motion and easily monitor the eggs and larvae. Although the feeding needs of these thousands of larvae change from day to day, there is never any confusion. The worker bees never grow confused over such details as the age of the larvae or each one’s nutritional needs.
This is most astonishing, because in the hive is a very large number of larvae of different sizes, from eggs laid by the queen at different times. The workers adopt a feeding program for the young bees during the larva stage, based on how many days old they are. Nevertheless, the nurse bees experience no problems with their feeding of the larvae.
The larvae within the hive continue growing in specially prepared combs, and on the seventh day, a surprising phenomenon transpires. Each larva stops eating, and worker bees seal the entrance to its cell with a lightly domed wax cover.4 At this point the larva imprisons itself here by spinning around itself a papery cocoon from a substance it generates itself.5
The bee larvae thus move on to their pupal stage. Before we examine the details further, one particular point requires special attention—the nature of the substance from which they weave their cocoon, produced by the two silk glands on the larva’s head.
One characteristic of this substance is that after coming into contact with the air, it hardens very quickly. The protein known as fibroin which it contains is a powerful bactericide and prevents infection. Scientists studying bees estimate that the cocoons they weave protect these pupae from germs.
The material used in weaving the cocoon consists of a combination of different chemical substances in specific proportions:
The formula for this thread with which the larvae spin their cocoons is produced in exactly the same way in each bee. For millions of years, bee larvae have weaved their cocoons using thread with that exact formula. Moreover, the bee larvae produce this complex substance only when they need it, just before their pupal stage. Bearing these facts in mind, a number of questions arise. For instance, how is this substance suddenly produced in the larva’s body? Can a larva, without eyes, wings or legs, which has never seen the world and is unaware of the kind of life it will lead, decide on its own to produce such a substance? Did the larva hit upon the formula for the protective chemical substance on its own? Did it succeed in producing it by itself? Who placed these necessary chemicals in the larva’s body?
It is of course impossible for the larva—which is unable even to move by itself, whose care is provided by other adults, which is unable to see or hear and possesses only the most basic vital functions—to form the thread used in the cocoon on its own. Even claiming that such an ability were possible would be to distance oneself from science and reason, because such a claim would be tantamount to accepting that the larval bee possesses the information needed to manufacture the chemical formula and is capable of mathematical calculations. That would be an unscientific fantasy.
However, one most important point needs emphasizing here. Even if the creature in question did possess conscious awareness, that would still alter nothing, because it is out of the question for any living thing to develop, on its own, a system, which doesn’t already exist in its body. Human beings, for example, are the only living things in nature which possess logic and reason. Despite that, however, it is impossible for humans to develop inside their own bodies’ systems to enable the production of even a very simple chemical formula. That being so, it would be illogical and irrational to maintain that an insect could no something that human beings, with their reason and consciousness, cannot.
How does the thread used by the larva in cocoon spinning come about? In order to answer this question, let’s first enumerate the substances that constitute it. One of these, fibroin, is a combination of glycol, alanine, leucine, arginine and tyrosine, in specific proportions. Another of its components, sericin, is a compound of very exact proportions of serine, alanine and leucine. The thread used by the larvae in spinning their cocoons also contains such substances as wax, fat and resin.
As we have seen, a large number of chemical substances need to come together in very exact proportions to form the thread. Suppose we now conduct an experiment and wait for the simplest substance among these to come into being by itself. No matter how long we wait, no matter what processes we carry out, the result will always be the same. Whether we wait for days, months, or even millions of years, not one of the atoms comprising these substances, let alone those substances themselves, can ever come into existence by chance. That being so, it’s totally illogical and irrational to claim that each substance in the thread the larvae use to spin their cocoons emerged by chance, and that later—again by chance—they came together to form the thread itself.
The formation of this thread is just one of the many processes necessary in order for a bee to hatch out of its chamber and become able to fly. All these mechanisms have to be present in order, at exactly the same time, in order for the larva to develop into an adult bee. The slightest defect, and the bee larva will fail to develop, leading to its death. That, in turn, will lead to gradual extinction of the species. The conclusion we reach is that, contrary to what evolutionists would have us believe, bees did not emerge of their own accord over the passage of time, but came into being in a single moment, with all their systems in working order. This shows that bees are the work of a Creator. That Creator is God, Who rules the entire universe and Who possesses superior wisdom.
It is God Who sets out the sorts of features that bees should possess, Who creates all of these in a perfect form, Who inspires the larva to spin its cocoon—and Who, in short, directs every action that bees take.
The Pupal Stage
After the worker bees cap the larva’s chamber, it enters the pupal stage and remains in its cell for 12 days.7 During that time, no external change can be observed in the cell. Yet within it, the pupa is constantly developing. Three weeks after the queen bee laid the egg in the cell, its wax cover is torn open, and a honeybee emerges, ready to fly. The pupa’s outer shell remains in the cell as a dead, cast-off sheath.
The honeybee that emerges from the cell begins its life span of six weeks or so as a result of these developmental stages it has undergone.8 The bee emerges from the cell as an entirely new creature, resembling neither the larva nor the pupa. With the completion of its final stage of development, the bee emerges from the pupa with all the perfect systems it will need in order to survive—a phenomenon that deserves consideration. Every structure and attribute the bee possesses has formed inside a small, entirely closed area. Its specially structured wings it will use to travel long distances, the compound eyes created for all the functions they will perform, the sting it will use against enemies, its glands, the system which enables the production of wax, its reproductive system, the leg hairs that allow it to gather pollen—in other words, all its physical systems develop within its cocoon during the pupal stage.
How did the pupa turn into a bee? How did the growth stages of the bee first emerge? Who or what defined that process? Was it the bee itself—or chance, as evolutionists would have us believe—or a more powerful force than either of these?
The answer to these questions is clear. It is absurd to claim that the insect inside the cocoon could carry out the necessary changes within itself, in full knowledge of what it will need in the outside world. It’s totally out of the question for the eye or digestive system, or substances such as enzymes and hormones, to form inside a pupa that develops as a result of happenstance changes in itself. Neither can there be any question of an external intervention in the pupa.
During the pupal stage, neither chance nor the bee itself enables the perfect completion of each of the bee’s organs, with all the functions they will require. Such a flawless development can only be performed by a superior and matchless Power—God, Who is matchless in creation.
Division of Labor, and The Order in The Hive
The number of bees in a hive varies between 10,000 and 80,000. Despite the large number of insects living together in this way, never is there any interruption in the functioning of the hive nor any confusion within it, thanks to the flawless division of labor and discipline among the bees.
The order within the hive is particularly striking. For that reason, scientists have performed very detailed studies of bees, starting with how that order is established inside the hive, the criteria by which tasks are divided, and how such enormous communities are able to cooperate so comfortably. The results they came up with proved to be most thought-provoking for the researchers themselves. In particular, proponents of the theory of evolution—which maintains that living things came into being by chance—were forced to consider the contradictions, which now confronted them.
The concept of the “struggle for survival,” one of the fundamental tenets of the theory of evolution, is just one of the inconsistencies now in question. According to evolutionists, every living thing in nature fights to protect its own interests. Moreover, according to this twisted perception, the reason why a living thing cares for its young is a desire for the survival of its own genes, in other words, nothing more than an instinct. “Instinct” is in any case the explanation that evolutionists proffer to account for any behavior they can’t explain in any other way. Yet they are unable to offer a logical explanation of how these instincts could have emerged in the first place.
Evolutionists maintain that instinct is a feature acquired through the mechanism known as natural selection. Natural selection mandates that all forms of change beneficial to a living thing should be selected and made permanent in that living thing and thus transmitted to subsequent generations. On careful inspection, however, it’s clear that consciousness and some decision-making mechanism are necessary for any such selection to be made. In other words, a living thing must first engage in a given form of behavior, then determine that such behavior would give it significant long-term advantages, and then, as the result of a conscious decision, make that behavior “instinctive” and permanent.
Yet no such decision-taking mechanism can belong to any of the living things in nature. They are not only unable to select and propagate any form of behavior that might prove advantageous, but they are even unaware of their own situation.
Take the example of the cocoon-spinning larva examined in the preceding section. At a specific time, as we saw, worker bees cap the opening of the cell in the comb and the larva enshrouds itself in its own cocoon. What is more, all honeybees, whether they live in Africa or Australia, have been carrying out these same processes for millions of years. In other words, this instinct is common to all bees. Yet how do the worker bees and larvae establish that the most suitable developmental environment is within the cocoon? Is it possible for them to calculate this and make the necessary decisions?
At this point, evolutionists find themselves in a grave inconsistency. The series of selections they claim can be made only by a superior power. Only a conscious entity can give these creatures the features and instinctive behavior they require. Yet to accept that premise is to accept the existence of a Creator. To put it another way, the flawless design in nature belongs to God, and all forms of behavior defined as “instinctive” are inspired by Him. Evolutionists are actually well aware of this. They know that such a small and unconscious creature as the honeybee can never possess these extraordinary abilities by its own will. Yet even though evolutionists see the superior power of God and realize the impossibility of their own claims, still they refuse to abandon their theory.
In the past, there have been people who shared that exact same mindset. At the time of Prophet Moses (peace be upon him), there were some who ignored the evident miracles that this blessed prophet performed and continued to deny the manifest existence of God. In the Qur’an, God reveals the situation of such people:
And they repudiated them wrongly and haughtily, in spite of their own certainty about them. See the final fate of the corrupters. (Surat an-Naml: 14)
Admissions by Evolutionists
During their studies of life and nature, scientists have encountered very different proofs of creation in not one or two, but hundreds, thousands and even millions of species. Countless times, therefore, they’ve had to admit their claims with regard to instinct are meaningless.
These words by the geneticist Gordon Taylor clearly reveal the dilemma facing evolutionists:
In The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Darwin’s son Francis described the difficulties faced by his father in this regard:
Chapter III. of the Sketch, which concludes the first part, treats of the variations which occur in the instincts and habits of animals ... It seems to have been placed thus early in the Essay to prevent the hasty rejection of the whole theory by a reader to whom the idea of natural selection acting on instincts might seem impossible. This is the more probable, as the Chapter on Instinct in the Origin is specially mentioned (Introduction, page 5) as one of the “most apparent and gravest difficulties on the theory.”10
The situation that the theory of evolution found itself in with regard to instincts was also admitted by Charles Darwin himself, in various ways. For example, this is how Darwin confesses that animal instincts overturn his theory in his The Origin of Species:
Many instincts are so wonderful that their development will probably appear to the reader a difficulty sufficient to overthrow my whole theory.11
Regarding the impossibility of instincts developing, Darwin had this to say:
It seems to me wholly to rest on the assumption that instincts cannot graduate as finely as structures. I have stated in my volume that it is hardly possible to know which, i.e. whether instinct or structure, change first by insensible steps.12
The proponents of the theory of evolution resort to all sorts of means so as not to have to accept the existence of a supreme Creator. Indeed, in his own words quoted above Charles Darwin stated that it would be illogical not to accept that instincts were created—but that he found it more personally satisfying to persist in denial, based on the use of the imagination. The conclusion that emerges is a clear example of “repudiating in spite of one’s own certainty about it,” mentioned in the Qur’anic verse cited earlier.
The common features among the slave-making ants and cuckoos cited by Darwin, are 1) establishing tactics in the light of their objectives, 2) making plans compatible with that tactic, and 3) applying these to the letter. Developing a tactic to deceive another creature, and drawing up plans to destroy an enemy by identifying his weak points, come about as the result of reason and planning and judgment. The fact is, however, that neither ants nor cuckoos possess the powers of reason and judgment.
They receive no training in these areas. They have not learned from anyone else the tactics they employ. Neither do they possess any accumulated knowledge. These creatures, totally devoid of any power of thought, were created by God together with all the characteristics they possess. Thanks to their being inspired by God, they perform these functions requiring reason and judgment.
Bees Deal a Lethal Blow to the “Instinct” Claim
No matter how much evolutionists may ignore the behavior of living things in nature, it refutes their claims. Bees, with their social order and conscious behavior, are just some of the animals that deal a fatal blow to the claims of evolutionists.
No “struggle for survival” of the kind that evolutionists propose is ever to be seen in beehives. On the contrary, bees behave most altruistically towards one another and display great cooperation. A comparison of the general order within the hive will be enough to demonstrate that the intelligent, altruistic and disciplined behavior of bees does not arise from these creatures themselves and cannot come about by chance.
If we imagine the same number of human beings living together as there are bees in a hive, and suppose that all these people met all their own individual needs, then we can more clearly grasp the importance of the tasks that the bees perform. Let us take the lowest population for a hive—say 20,000—and imagine that this number of humans lived together in a closed area. A huge number of problems will inevitably result, such as cleanliness, food, security and the like. Order in the full sense of the word will be established only following a division of labor carried out with precise organization.
In brief, it would be a most demanding process to set up the kind of order established by bees. Yet from the moment a bee emerges from the cell, it knows how that order is to be maintained, its duty within that order, and where, when and in what ways it needs to behave. Moreover, there are no other bees directing these newly-emerged adults and telling them what to do. These insects receive no formal training, yet they carry out their duties in a most disciplined way. That is because bees were created together with their characteristics by God. As we have already seen in Surat an-Nahl, God has inspired their behavior in them. It is God, Lord of infinite might and knowledge, Who brings about the order and impeccable discipline among the tens of thousands of bees living together in their dark hive.
The Workers: The Hive’s Most Industrious Members
Worker bees in the hive are most important in ensuring order and that the work in the hive is performed without anything going wrong. Due to the large numbers of bees in the hive, a lot of work needs to be done. Like the queen, all the workers are female. As soon as they emerge from their cells, they set to work. The worker bees are responsible for much of this such as caring for the young, cleaning, feeding, food-gathering and storage of honey and pollen. Before considering the tasks of the worker bees in detail, we may set out their tasks in the following broad categories:
Order inside the hive, with its tens of thousands of bees, is ensured by every individual carrying out its duties to the full. But what kind of order is there within the hive? How are the tasks distributed and defined?
The German scientist Gustav Rosch sought answers to these questions. As a result of his experiment, he concluded that the tasks assumed by the workers in the hive depends on their age. According to these results, worker bees take on completely different roles during their first three weeks of life.14 These periods can be divided up as follows:
But age is not the only factor involved in determining a bee’s tasks. Although each bee has its specific responsibilities, in an emergency, bees can also change their duties instantly. This is an enormous advantage in a society as crowded as the hive’s. If the distribution of labor among bees were bound by fixed rules, then in the event of some unexpected happening, the colony might face grave difficulties. For instance, in case of a major attack on the hive, if only the sentry bees participated in the fighting and the rest all carried on with their own jobs, this would represent a serious danger to the hive. Yet what actually happens is that a large part of the colony takes part in the defense, and security becomes an immediate priority.
The way that bees suddenly change jobs is actually no different than someone working in the health field suddenly taking up employment in architecture or engineering. To make a comparison with human beings, people capable of serving in different capacities are described as intelligent. Yet when these characteristics, perfectly normal for human beings, come to apply to insects, matters are rather different because human beings acquire experience and an accumulation of knowledge in different areas by undertaking training or learning on the job. Yet bees do not. It is clear therefore that this is an extraordinary situation. How are the accumulated knowledge and abilities of bees to be accounted for? By whom were these skills taught to them?
According to the proponents of the theory of evolution, the root of these myriad abilities is either chance or the old mythological figure of “Mother Nature.” Evolutionists maintain that the force they describe as natural selection turns bees into expert architects, dedicated caretakers and expert honey manufacturers. However, the concept of “nature”—a world consisting of birds, insects, reptiles, trees, stones and flowers—cannot produce a bee through a string of coincidences. It cannot create a bee’s wing, or the ability whereby all the combs in a hive are crafted according to the same measurements, or the bees’ reproductive systems—or, in brief, even a single component of the bee’s body. That is because nature itself was also created by God. Every component of nature, and every detail thereof, was created by God.
Like all living things on Earth, bees act in accord with God’s inspiration. He is the one and only source of their intelligent behavior and the abilities they possess.
The Main Stages in the Lives of Worker Bees
First Stage: Cleaning Brood Cells
As soon as the worker bees hatch, they begin supporting activities in the hive in a most surprising manner. They have no guides or teachers to show them what to do, yet from the moment they emerge from their cells, they behave in a very conscious manner. Each bee has its own specific duties. Tens of thousands of bees act with complete harmony, and order in the hive is quickly established with no confusion ever arising.
A worker bee’s first job is cleaning. Emerging from the pupa, a bee immediately sets about this task. Beginning with its own cell, it cleans the brood cells for the first two days. Since the queen lays eggs constantly, there is an ongoing need for empty cells. As the cells empty out, they therefore need to be cleaned in preparation for new eggs.
The worker bee enters the cell it is to clean and remains in it sometimes for several minutes, carefully licking and cleaning the cell walls. In addition, the new-hatched worker bees also spend their first two days exploring the hive in order to get their bearings—since later in their lives, the workers will be responsible for the general cleanliness of the hive as a whole.15
Second Stage: Tending Larvae
From the third day of their lives onward, worker bees set about the task of feeding the larvae, and take great pains over every detail of this job.16
Bee larvae require greater care and attention than the young of many other animals. But what is significant here is that how the larvae are fed changes according to such factors as the age of the larvae and their future roles within the hive. In their care of the larvae, the nurse bees stick to a special feeding menu.
Care of the larvae takes place in two phases, depending on their ages:
1) Worker bees spend the third through the fifth days of their lives feeding those larvae which have completed their third days. These they feed with the foodstuff known as “bee bread,” a mixture of pollen and honey.17 Since larvae younger than three days are unable to digest this bee bread, they are given different food:
2) Newly-hatched larvae are given a kind of milk that the worker bees secrete. When the worker bees are six days old, a pair of glands on their heads go into action. These organs, known as the hypopharyngeal glands, secrete a very special substance known as “royal jelly,” whose properties have astonished scientists. This is because whether a larva turns into a queen bee or a worker depends on whether it’s fed this substance which the workers secrete. The nurse bees feed royal jelly to the larvae only for the first three days after hatching from their eggs; after which, as we have seen above, the larvae are then fed on bee bread.
However, bee bread is never fed to a larva that is intended to turn into a queen. Unlike other larvae, future queens are fed on royal jelly throughout their larval stage.18
Third Stage: Construction
Starting on their tenth day, the bees leave the hive for the first time and familiarize themselves with the world outside. At this point, the wax glands on the bees’ abdomens begin to develop, maturing on the twelfth day and becoming ready to produce wax.19 The activities of the hypopharyngeal glands have now been halted. Now 12 days old, the workers stop feeding the young and set about constructing honeycombs consisting of identical hexagonal cells. (Since this is a particularly complex procedure, we’ll examine it in detail later in this book.)
There is no need for the bees to constantly build combs in their hive. They construct them only when the site they live in fails to respond to requirements or when they migrate elsewhere. Apart from that, they generally use wax to repair the combs—a task that does not take up that much time. During this period, the bees perform three other very important jobs.
Two of these involve distributing foodstuffs—pollen and nectar—collected from the outside to the other bees and storing them in the comb cells. The bees take the honey from the nectar-gathering bees on their return to the hive, divide it among their hungry fellows as appropriate, and store the rest in honeycombs.20
Major Cleaning in the Hive
During this period, the third job performed by the worker bees is cleaning the hive, which is essential to the health of the colony. Bees of this age drag outside the hive all sorts of waste material—comb caps that have served their purpose, the bodies of bees which have died, remains of cocoons and waste materials from bees that have newly emerged from their cells—and deposit it some meters away.21
However, if something is too large for them to carry, they cover it with a substance known as propolis, also known as bee glue, which they produce by adding saliva to the sticky resin that they gather from the buds of some trees. They then collect this substance in special structures called pollen baskets on their hind legs and carry it back to the hive. One characteristic feature of propolis is that it prevents any bacterial growth.22
Bees make a particularly accurate use of propolis’s bactericidal qualities. By using it to cover intruding insects that they have killed but which are too large for them to drag outside the hive, they engage in a kind of mummification process.
If you carefully consider this last sentence, you will perceive the most astonishing details. Consider the way in which propolis is used and the functions performed by the bees.
First of all, bees apparently know that when a living thing dies, its body will decay and that the substances resulting from its putrefaction could sicken the hive’s inhabitants. Somehow, they are also aware that in order to prevent its decay, the dead creature needs to be subjected to a specific chemical process. And so they use propolis, with its property of killing bacteria, for this mummification process.
But how do the bees—emerged as adults less than a month ago—know that this creature will decay and how to eliminate its eventual harmful effects? Furthermore, how could they have thought of using, much less manufacturing—the propolis? Who taught them to do this? How did the bees discover this substance in the first place? How did they come by the formula and learn to produce it? How did they transmit the knowledge of its formula to other bees and hand it down to subsequent generations of their own?
Clearly, bees can have no “advance knowledge” of such subjects as the knack of mummification, the ingredients and production of the antiseptic substance or how it can be used—much less that their own bodies have developed a system to manufacture this. Bees cannot think out all these details for themselves. Neither can they have possibly learned these processes, which require intelligence and knowledge at every stage, by chance, since chance cannot lead to conscious, rational behavior.
All this shows that bees must have been taught to carry out all these processes by another Intelligence. All of this has been inspired in bees by God, the Creator of all beings. Like everything else on Earth, bees submit to God, the Almighty Lord and Absolute Ruler of the universe:
Exalted be God, the King, the Real. There is no deity but Him, Lord of the Noble Throne. (Surat al-Muminun: 116)
The Diverse Uses of Propolis
Bees also use propolis in the construction of their hive, employing this material to repair crevices and holes in the walls. Moreover, in some volcanic regions such as in Salerno in southern Italy, where temperatures often get very high, it has been observed that the addition of propolis into wax, the raw material of the combs, raises the melting point of the wax so that the combs do not melt.23
When it comes to the collection and dispersal of propolis, there is a literal division of labor among the bees in different parts of the hive. A propolis-bearing bee returns to the hive in a different way than one carrying pollen. The pollen-bearer looks for an empty cell in which to deposit its cargo. But the propolis-bearer goes to a construction zone where this substance is needed and shows to the other bees what it has collected. If the workers need propolis, they approach the bearer and take as much as they need from its basket. They then immediately mix it with wax, forming a sticky adhesive that they use in the construction process.
The striking point is that the propolis-bearing bee does not become involved in the construction work, but waits for its fellows engaged in the task to relieve it of its load.24 Every member of the bee colony has its own particular job. Each one takes care of its own assignment, and the bees help out on another job only when something goes wrong in it. For that reason, a bee does not become involved in both resin gathering and patching and mummification, or also in dragging outside what has been mummified. Although every bee in the hive possesses the ability to perform all these tasks, it performs its own task in the best possible manner and leaves the other jobs to those of its fellows responsible for them.
Concerning the lives of the worker bees, one very important point must not be forgotten. All the changes of task in worker bees throughout their 5- to 6-week life spans are related to changes in their bodies. While some glands cease to function, new ones begin to go into action for an entirely different work.
During the bees’ comb-making period, for instance, their wax glands develop. During the nursing phase, the glands mature that provide food for the larvae. When they reach the sentry phase, suddenly their glands start to secrete venom. If this were a chance development, then a great number of problems would be experienced. During the larvae tending phase, for example, venom might be secreted in the bees’ bodies instead of royal jelly. That would spell the death of all the larvae and the extinction of the bees. Yet no problem actually arises during the course of all these changes, because everything happens in a very controlled manner, within a flawless order. It would be impossible for such an ordered system to come about through chance development.
In the fourth stage of their lives, worker bees undergo another change of function.
Fourth Stage: Guarding the Hive
During the fourth stage of their lives, worker bees serve as guards at the entrance to the hive. Another change takes place in their bodies; their sting glands develop and they start to produce venom. At this stage, the bees stand sentry at the hive entrance and keep out uninvited guests. Every creature which approaches—bees included—can enter only after being identified by the guard.25 If the guard bee should happen to leave her post, she is immediately replaced by another worker, who takes over the guard duty.
The way bees stand guard over the hive may be compared to how immigration officers work on national frontiers. A country’s border security is of the greatest importance, for which reason a large number of precautions are taken. In the same way, security in the hive is also very important: Guard bees allow absolutely no strangers into the hive.
All the bees bear a very close resemblance to one another, yet any foreign bees entering the hive are immediately identified. Scientists researching the question of how bees accomplish this came up with some very surprising conclusions:
The odor of the hive is the most important factor how bees recognize one another; thanks to this odor, the bees are able to tell each other apart. Those that do not carry the hive’s distinctive odor therefore represent a danger. Without exception, every outsider lacking the odor of the hive is attacked by the guard bees.
Bees that try to enter another hive are immediately identified by its sentries because of their different odors, and are either expelled or killed by the guards.
When an outsider appears at the entrance to the hive, the sentries immediately display a forceful reaction, using their stings against any creature perceived as being from outside the hive. Right after the guard bees’ initial intervention, other bees in the hive then generally join in the attack.
The signal which initiates a general attack by worker bees in the hive is a chemical substance (pheromone) given off by the stings of the sentries attacking the outsider. In some cases, in addition to the release of the pheromones that initiate the attack, the characteristic posture and behavior of the restless bees also represent an alarm signal to the other bees in the hive. Following the dispersion of the alarm chemicals, hundreds of bees swarm to the hive’s entrance. The stronger the pheromone released by the guard bees, the greater the excitement and aggression of the others.26
These particular pheromones play a most important role in communication among bees, and have been used ever since the first bees appeared on Earth. Bees produce and release these chemicals with special features created for them in their bodies by God, and thus are able to maintain communications.
The Self-Sacrifice of Worker Bees
In the period during which they serve as guards, these worker bees place their own lives in danger. That is because any bee that attacks an aggressor faces death because it is unable to retract its sting. Like the spines of a hedgehog, the bee’s stinger is barbed that prevent it from being withdrawn from the skin of many animals. The guard bees can retract their stings only from other bees or certain other animals—and the guards suffer no harm in such cases. However, if a bee stings a human being and then seeks to fly away, the sting mechanism remains embedded in skin, and the bee is thus eviscerated. The area of the abdomen which is thus detached contains the venom sac and the nerves that control it. In the wake of this damage to its internal organs, the bee soon dies.
Another feature of the sac torn from the soon-to-be dead bee is that it still continues to pump venom out into its victim, even though it is no longer attached to the bee.27
The defense of the hive is a major responsibility that concerns the entire colony—one that the guard bees fulfill even at the cost of their own lives. Every bee in the hive behaves in the same way, and when the time comes, it assumes the role of sentry, protecting the colony at the risk of its own life.
This self-sacrificing behavior of bees refutes the evolutionists’ claim that there is a “struggle for survival” in nature and that all living things seek to protect only their own line of descent.
The True Reason for Bees’ Self-Sacrificial Behavior
Self-sacrifice is a form of behavior that cannot be explained by the theory of evolution’s “struggle for survival” thesis. Evolutionist claims take the position that living things fight to protect themselves and survive. But the fact is that it is inaccurate to say that nature consists solely of warring individuals, since living things display considerable behavior such as mutual cooperation and self-sacrifice. In reply to that, some evolutionists claim that living things sacrifice themselves to ensure the continuity of their offspring, in other words that this represents an advantage to them. This claim contains a number of inconsistencies, however.
For instance, guard bees attack and fight insects such as hornets, which are much larger than themselves, without a moment’s hesitation. The claim that bees do so out of a consideration of their own interests and that this represents an advantage to them raises a number of questions. Are bees able to think in terms of defending their colony’s young as they engage in such behavior? Can bees possess the concepts of past and future and have concerns and expectations regarding these? What advantage can their deaths bring to worker bees as they defend their hive?
There is of course no question of bees thinking in such terms. Neither have individual bees anything to gain from this. Even if they did, there would still be no point in sacrificing their lives. Guard bees protect their hive solely because that is the task that God entrusted to them.
For a creature devoid of any reason, to establish a plan, act in the light of that plan, display exemplary cooperation and engage in self-sacrifice is behavior that cannot possibly have arisen by chance. This behavior has been taught to them—in other words, it has been inspired by God.
Just like all the other creatures on Earth, the bees that are the subject of this book act according to God’s inspiration. All living things in the universe—horses, birds, insects, trees, flowers, leopards and elephants—have bowed their heads to God. Everything they do is by God’s inspiration. God reveals His dominion over the living world in Surah Hud:
... There is no creature He does not hold by the forelock. My Lord is on a Straight Path. (Surah Hud: 56)
Fifth Stage: Foraging
In the final period of their lives, the worker bees’ job is to collect food. They meet all their own nutritional needs from the pollen and nectar they gather from flowers. Pollen is rich in protein, and nectar is both a source of quick energy and the raw material for honey. Since bees are unable to forage for food in the winter, they store honey in the hive. They do not store pollen separately for the winter, but collect it in sufficient quantities for the younger bees to eat in rainy weather.28
The pollen they collect is not consumed directly, but is turned into a substance known as “bee pollen” or “bee bread.” The bees bring about this transition by adding nectar and various enzymes to the pollen collected by flowers.29
The job of collecting pollen and nectar falls to bees that are 21 days old. At this stage, their wax glands that served to produce wax stop secreting, and the workers leave the hive to begin their new and dangerous jobs. It is hazardous to fly around outside among the flowers because all the bees’ natural enemies, such as spiders and dragonflies, live there. In addition, this task is a rather tiring one, since the bees must constantly fly back and forth between the hive and the flowers, their source of food. Bees whose flight muscles wear out die soon afterwards.
But meanwhile, their bodies are equipped with specially created systems to collect nectar and pollen. They swallow nectar to fill their internal honey sacs. They do not swallow pollen as they do nectar, but carry it back to the hive in small pouches affixed to the sides of their hind legs.
Bees’ Pollen Baskets
On the hind legs of bees are found slight concavities, just like spoons, surrounded by a fringe of hairs. This area is known as the “pollen basket,” and serves to carry the pollen. The underside of the bees’ abdomen is completely covered in soft hairs. The pollen sticks to these when the worker bee encounters a flower, and the hairs on its legs act rather like a comb, sweeping up the pollen and helping accumulate it in the pollen basket.30
When a bee reaches the age for food gathering, it fills its crop with a small amount of honey to give it enough energy before flying off. In addition, it uses this honey to place in its baskets the pollen it collects. When the pollen-gathering bee lands on a flower’s anther, it uses its mouth and forelegs to scrape up the pollen it finds there and moistens it with the regurgitated honey in order to make it sticky. As the bee does so, some of the pollen sticks to its body hairs, so that bees sometimes appear as if they were covered in flour.
Bees sweep up this pollen into their pollen baskets while in flight. As they fly from one flower to another, they use the combs on their hind legs to collect the pollen stuck to their legs and bodies. By rubbing its hind legs against each other, a bee transfers the pollen gathered on each pollen comb to the pollen press on the opposing leg. The accumulated pollen is then forced into the pollen basket on the outer part of the leg.
The pollen is thus collected in one place, and the bee continues doing this until, eventually, a large deposit of pollen forms, and the basket is filled. The bee occasionally strikes the outer surface of the basket with its legs in order to keep the pollen mass from falling off, thus settling it safely, and heads off back toward the hive. On arriving, the pollen is placed in cells specially set aside for it.31
Many insects collect pollen from flowers, but none achieve such productive results as bees, because their bodies are so ideally suited to pollen gathering. Even so, it requires considerable work, because after working for a very long time, the bee carries only two pollen packets back to the hive. It takes an average of 20 pairs of pollen packages to fill one honeycomb cell. This means the bees must work non-stop.32
From flowers, bees collect two distinct substances that are each very different to one another, both in terms of their contents, their manner of collection and where they are used. Bees need a different system to collect nectar from flowers from what they use for collecting pollen. That is because the location of nectar varies according to the plant’s structure. In some plants, the nectar appears freely on the surface of the petals, and it is no problems for bees to reach it. In the flowers of other species, however, the nectar is much less accessible, being at the bottom of a long tube. Bees therefore need to be able to descend deep to retrieve the nectar from those regions.
This represents a difficulty for a great many insect species, though not for bees, since they have a special organ known as the proboscis—an elongated tubular mouthpart that allows them to reach nectar in the depths of a flower. They also use their proboscis to drink honey and water. The proboscis plays a vital role in exchanging foodstuffs among bees, and is also used in licking up the secretions from the queen bee and distributing them to the other bees. When not using its proboscis, a worker folds it up in a Z-shaped pattern into a cavity beneath its mouth, and then opens it out again when she wants to collect nectar, pollen or water.33
When a bee lands on a flower, drops of nectar flow first up this sucking tube, and then through the esophagus into the “honey stomach.” Bees collect as much nectar as they can carry there, then return to the hive. They need to visit between 100 and 150 flowers in order to fill their honey stomachs of 50 cubic millimeter capacity.34
The division of labor among bees is clearly dramatized in their collection and storage of nectar. A bee returning to the hive laden with nectar wastes no time in storing it away. Instead, it transfers the nectar from its mouth to those bees charged with that responsibility, leaving only enough in its stomach to meet its own energy needs, then flies off again at once to the food source. Any bee to which the nectar has been transferred either gives it to still other bees or else stores it away, depending on the food needs of the hive on the day in question.35
After having become adults and beginning to forage, bees can undertake all jobs. Their three-week life span is sufficient for this.
We have already mentioned that changes take place in the bee’s body throughout her development, and how jobs in the hive change in direct proportion to bodily changes that take place at different times in the bee’s body. But these changes are not irreversible. A bee’s organs can regain their previous functions if the needs of the hive require it. For example, when the hive suffers any damage, either through an enemy attack or as the result of fire, adults no longer engaged in making wax may start to do so in order to repair the damage. Similarly, if the possibility of a problem in feeding the larvae arises, there may be others whose hypopharyngeal glands come back into operation to aid the nurse bees. When the honey stock is insufficient, a greater number of bees may forage out to collect nectar, or if the hive urgently needs to be cooled down, then the other bees stop whatever they are doing and immediately start ventilating with their wings. If the hive comes under a major attack, most of the bees join in its defense, and hundreds of workers congregate at the entrance to the hive to repulse the assault together.36
In short, every bee in the hive knows what sorts of needs may arise, and thus how and where they need to act. As we have seen so far, there is a “group consciousness” prevailing in everything bees do, allowing them to fulfill their responsibilities in a most successful manner.
Considering all this information, a most important conclusion emerges. To maintain that bees acquired all their behavioral and physical characteristics either of their own will or else by chance conflicts with reason, logic and science. Details such as the fact that all bees of the same age behave in a similar way, and that the order within the beehive has persisted unchanged ever since the appearance of the first bees, are clear indications that these insects are directed by an intelligence. All the knowledge they possess is given them by an Entity possessed of intelligence. It is God, with His infinite knowledge, Who inspires in bees what they need to do and what tasks they will undertake at different times. God creates everything within a specific order:
He is God—the Creator, the Maker, the Giver of Form. To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names. Everything in the heavens and earth glorifies Him. He is the Almighty, the All-Wise. (Surat al-Hashr: 24)
Temperature Regulation in the Hive
Some living things use their own body heat in order to regulate the temperature of the environment in which they live. Those capable of doing this include warm-blooded creatures like mammals and birds. The body temperatures of a great many other cold-blooded creatures (lizards, snakes, tortoises, fish, snails, worms, lobsters, insects, etc.) change according to the temperature of their surroundings.
Bearing this in mind, it is striking that the temperature in beehives remains unchanged at 35 degrees centigrade (95 degrees Fahrenheit).37 Although bees are unable to regulate the temperature in the hive with their own internal body heat, they regulate the temperature in the hive with the heat given off by their own movement. One of worker bees’ most important responsibilities is this stabilization of the hive temperature. No matter what the temperature in the surroundings (tree trunk, rocky space, etc.), honeybees always keep the temperature in the hive under strict control. From the end of spring to autumn, they maintain a temperature of a constant 34.5 to 35.5 degrees centigrade (94-96oF).
Honeybees are strongly affected by temperature changes. Processes such as the production of wax and honey all take place at a specific temperature. Those most affected by changes in the hive temperature are the young, and for that reason, great care is taken over the temperature in the brood cells. Bees engage in various activities in order to stabilize the temperature in the hive regardless of the temperature changes over the course of the day. In the early morning, for instance, when air temperatures are coldest, the workers throng together around the combs and warm the eggs with their own body heat. As the day goes on and air temperatures start to rise, this mass of bees gradually disperses. If the temperature continues to rise, the bees start to beat their wings in order to ventilate this region and lower the temperature. They seek to lower the temperature by directing the air current to the hive entrance and toward the combs.
On very hot days, bees use a rather stronger means of cooling. When the temperature in the hive rises to a severe level, rather than bringing pollen or nectar the foraging bees bring drops of water they’ve collected from various sources and sprinkle these over the brood cells.38 They then set up an air current with their wings to evaporate this water. Via this method, the temperature soon returns to its previous level.39 In one experiment, a hive was placed in direct sunlight on a day when the temperature had risen to 50 degrees centigrade (122oF). The bees were observed to be bringing in water constantly from a nearby source to keep the inside temperature at 35 degrees centigrade (95oF).
Bees use a similar method to the one they employ in cooling the hive when it comes to warming it during the winter. When the temperature falls in the hive, they first come together in a large cluster. The outer crust of bees varies between 2.5 and 7.5 centimeters (1 to 3 inches) thick, depending on the intensity of the cold. The rest of the bees, which are inside, are not as closely packed as those on the outside. These bees constantly move, providing heat for the cluster. (It is known that at 10 degrees centigrade (or 50oF), a bee can produce 0.1 calories of heat per minute.) The bees move about more in order to generate more heat. Those on the outside shrink together, thus ensuring their bodies make less contact with the cold air.
The food in the honey stomachs of the outside bees is soon expended. At this point, those bees on the outside and those on the inside change places.40 By this method, bees are able to maintain the hive temperature at 35 degrees centigrade (95oF) even when the outside temperature drops as far as -30oC (-22oF).41
These solutions that bees employ in regulating the hive temperature are exceedingly effective and practical. The question that needs to be considered is how they discovered these solutions and how they arrived at the optimum hive temperature. It is most astonishing that an insect should be able to make such fine calculations.
First, it is essential for there to be some organ for measuring temperature in the bee’s body. That being so the question then arises of how such an organ, as sensitive as a thermometer, came to exist. Since bees could not have come into possession of this system by chance, and cannot have identified what the hive temperature should be and how to maintain it by experimenting, then there must be a Power creating these abilities in bees.
It is impossible for bees to create all this themselves. Bees, most of whose adults live less than a month, cannot have worked out the design for this temperature-measuring system sited in their bodies, nor the information about when and how to heat their hive, by themselves.
All this leads us to one conclusion: Everything bees do is inspired in them by God, the Creator of all. The systems they possess and the matchless artistry also point us to Him.
The Death of the Worker Bees
Worker bees bear the entire burden of the colony, and work without stopping from the moment they emerge from the pupal stage. Due to this heavy tempo, they only live for 3-4 weeks after they leave the hive and begin gathering food.
The chief cause of the death of workers is their never-ending search for food. As a result of this demanding activity, the foragers’ brood food and wax glands soon degenerate. They also lose their hair after a total flight distance of about 800 kilometers (500 miles), and their flight muscles wear out.42 Worker bees usually die while on duty, outside the hive.
The new individuals that hatch out in the autumn will assume charge of maintaining the colony. Since the emergence of these bees coincides with the beginnings of winter, they are unable to leave the hive and must live off foodstuffs already stored by previous generations of workers.
Despite the short life spans of the bees that make up the colony, the colonies themselves are rather long-lived—so much so, in fact, that barring such circumstances as fire and drought, they are able to survive for 20 years or more.
Bees Emerged in a Single Moment
In examining the lives of bees, the point to concentrate on is how all the functions in the hive are performed by thousands of individuals, and yet, despite those large numbers, there is never the slightest confusion or disorder. The larvae never go hungry. Defense is never neglected, nor is the service of the queen ever impaired. Bees behave most intelligently at all stages of their lives and successfully complete all the tasks entrusted to them.
The activities of worker bees are described in The Marvels of Animal Behavior, a book published by the National Geographic Society:
In order to carry out their jobs in the hive, as mentioned earlier, workers sometimes use special fluids and at other times, organs created for the task at hand. In order for a bee to survive, the properties it possesses all need to exist at the same time. The venom and stinger essential to the defense of the hive, the elongated mouthpart used to collect nectar from flowers, the hairs which allow pollen to stick to the forager’s body, the comb-like hairs on their legs, and a great many other structures have all existed since bees first appeared on Earth. In addition, the behavior described by evolutionists as “instinctive” must also have existed since their first appearance. A bee has to know how to feed larvae, how to serve the queen, the best angle at which to build the combs for the easiest storage of honey, how to save wax and protect the hive, how to collect propolis, and how to tell its fellows where food is located—and all this from the moment of its emergence from its cell. In short, all bees’ abilities must have been in existence for as long as bees themselves have.
Were only one of bees’ features not to exist, then insuperable difficulties would arise, and these creatures would be unable to survive. This fact proves that bees could not have emerged over the course of time, in stages, as evolutionists would have us believe. In the absence of a single one of their properties and abilities, bees could not survive. Without stings, for example, they would be unable to defend themselves. Without the pollen baskets behind their legs, they would be unable to carry pollen back to the hive. If their proboscises were too short, they would be unable to suck up nectar, and if they did not secrete wax, they would be unable to build combs. If they did not know how to care for the larvae and build the honeycombs, their hives would become extinct. Even if they had venom glands but lacked the knowledge to protect the hive, those glands would serve no purpose. In short, all bees’ bodily systems and abilities need to have emerged at the same time, and in complete form, which cannot possibly have occurred by chance.
All this demonstrates that bees must have come into being in a single moment, and in their present-day forms. Bees were created by an all-powerful Creator, Who reveals Himself to us with the flawless features He has created in bees and all other species. That Creator is Almighty God, the Creator of the entire universe, Who possesses a mighty, infinite and incomparable knowledge. God is He Who is able to create everything, Who has knowledge of everything:
It is God Who created the heavens with no support—you can see them—and cast firmly embedded mountains on the Earth so that it would not move under you, and scattered about in it creatures of every kind. And We send down water from the sky and make every generous species grow in it. This is God’s creation. Show me then what those besides Him have created! The wrongdoers are clearly misguided. (Surah Luqman: 10-11)
The Queen Bee Who Ensures The Continuity of The Hive
A brief look at the beehive reveals that the workers take particular care of one bee, far larger than themselves. The other bees supply all these bee’s needs, such as feeding, cleaning and security. Although any hive contains tens of thousands of bees, there is only one queen, whose longevity is of vital importance to the entire hive. She ensures the continuity of the colony. In addition, discipline in the colony is ensured by substances she releases.
Throughout her life, the queen does nothing but lay eggs. She is always inside the hive, never leaves it, and lays eggs every day from early spring through late summer. The workers undertake all aspects of her care. As the queen moves around in the hive, a group of workers gather around her, feeding her constantly, stroking her with their antennae and licking her clean. In short, the queen does not involve in anything regarding her own care, because her only duty is to lay eggs to perpetuate the hive.
The Queen: A Rather Different Bee
The queen bee is set apart from the other bees right from her larval stage. Queens are raised in different combs with different features from those of the other bees. This site where the queen is raised consists of special cells hanging upside down from the comb. Since she is larger than the other bees, these cells are also constructed on a larger scale.44
As has been emphasized in earlier sections, there is no difference between the egg that hatches into a queen and an egg that produces the workers. The queen is the result of special feeding with royal jelly over her six-day larval period, and emerges not as an ordinary female worker, but as one very different in terms of appearance and function. Workers are fed royal jelly for only three days, but the queen receives it for the full six days of her larval stage.45
The ingredients and amount of the royal jelly given to the queen are specially regulated. Research has established that while other bees are only given 3 milligrams throughout their larval stage, the queen is given 10 milligrams. Simply on account of this difference in feeding, the queen and a worker emerge as two very different creatures, with very different morphological characteristics from one another.46
Differences between the Queen and the Other Bees
The queen differs in terms of her general structure and appearance. For example, although the workers are female like the queen, their ovaries are not developed—in other words, all worker bees are sterile. The queen’s head and thorax are little larger than those of the workers. And unlike the worker bees, the queen’s mandible is not suited to making wax cells. The queen bee’s hind legs also lack the workers’ hard hairs which fringe the pollen baskets. Most important of all, although the queen hatches from exactly the same sort of egg as the workers, she lives for from 4 to 5 years (except for those emerging in winter, who live for a few months), rather than just 5 to 6 weeks.
These are just a few of the general differences between the queen and the workers, which are set out in greater detail on the next page.
The Queen’s First Days
Following her larval stage, the queen goes through the pupal phase, just like all other bees, and emerges as an adult queen 16 days after the egg phase. In size, she is rather larger than the workers, and rather longer than the male drones.
To help ensure the security of the hive, and bearing all potential circumstances in mind, the workers raise several queens at a time, not just one. In the event that any harm befalls the old queen, a new queen immediately begins to be raised. The first thing she does is to move around the combs until she finds an uncovered cell with honey in it. She eats the honey she finds and rapidly moves around the other combs. Her objective is to find and kill the other pupating, potential queens. As soon as she finds another unhatched queen, she uses her lower jaw to tear open the cell in which the queen pupa lies, and stings her rival. Alternatively, she may simply leave the cell cap open and leave the queen to be destroyed by the workers.
If the queen encounters another adult queen in the hive, the two attack each other in a fight to the death, which contest is decided when one manages to sting the other. But this is not a frequent occurrence in the hive, because queens confront one another only if the existing queen is very old or has not yet left the colony to establish a new one.47 Generally speaking, when a new queen appears in the hive, the old queen has long since departed it. That the queen is so determined to kill her rivals is of great importance in terms of the order in the hive, because the existence of only one queen in the hive is essential for the establishment of discipline.
As she emerges from her cell, the new queen cannot replace the old queen, because she has not yet begun to lay eggs. In order to do so, she first needs to mate. Yet mating never takes place inside the hive. The queen soon leaves the hive and looks for male bees—drones—to fertilize her.48
There are two circumstances under which the queen leaves the hive: her mating flight and swarming time. Apart from these two occasions, the queen will never leave the hive. Before departing on the mating flight, she constantly moves around the hive. On days 5 and 6, she visits the hive entrance frequently. The following day or the day after, she leaves on short flights to learn the location of the hive and to familiarize herself with its surroundings. These flights start out with short duration, but become longer as the days go by.49
The Queen’s Mating Flight
The queen flies off from the hive to mate, accompanied by a group of workers. Shortly afterward, she leaves her escort of bees and flies alone to where male drones are present. When she comes within a certain distance of that area she starts to release a pheromone which allows the drones to locate her.
This journey, known as the mating flight and as a result of which the males become aware of her presence, typically takes place 10 days after the queen emerges from the pupa.50 The queen’s reproductive organs consist of two ovaries which produce her eggs, and a small receptacle at her abdomen known as the “spermatheca,” in which the male’s sperm is stored. This receptacle will play a most crucial role in the lives of bees that constitute the future members of the colony. The mating of the drone and queen takes place on the wing. Following fertilization, the male generally dies as the queen bee flies back to the hive.
It has been established that the queen makes from three to 12 flights during her mating period, mating with a different drone each time. Since the sperm from one male is insufficient to fill her spermatheca, she receives sperm from several males.51 Following each fertilization, the sperm from all the males is stored together. The queen will use this sperm obtained from the mating flights during her life span of 4 to 5 years.52 There is an average of 6 million spermatozoa in the spermatheca of a mated queen.53
Unlike the reproductive cells in many creatures, the male bees’ sperm can be preserved for years in the queen’s body without decaying or losing their viability. This is yet another sign of flawless creation in the body of the bee.
Yet the sperm collected in her body do not carry out the fertilization themselves. Every stage of the fertilization of the egg is under the queen’s control. She regulates the fertilization by depositing as much sperm as she desires from the spermatheca. (This most miraculous process will be examined in greater detail later in this book.)
A Million Eggs a Year
Some 2 to 3 days after the mating process is finished, the queen begins to lay her eggs one by one, in a series of cells specially prepared by the worker bees. She continues the process, non-stop, each year from early spring to mid-autumn, until the end of her life.
During the laying period, a queen lays from 1,500 to 2,000 eggs a day.54 When necessary, she can increase that figure to as high as 3,000.55 Based on the queen’s average speed, this means one fertilized egg laid every minute.
It has been calculated that a single queen may lay over one and a half million eggs within a year.56 Given her normal life span, this means that a single queen will eventually lay millions of eggs. In addition, the total weight of the eggs laid by the queen during one day is equivalent to that of her own body!
When the queen is about to lay an egg, she first puts her head into the comb cell and inspects it. Having reassured herself that the cell is empty and suitable for having an egg laid in it, she projects her abdomen over it. She then lays a long egg carefully into the bottom of the cell. As soon as the process is over, she moves on to next empty cell. The queen repeats this at least 1,500 times in a day. Despite the tiring nature of the process, she displays the same care and attention every time she lays an egg.57
How the Queen Determines the Gender of the Other Bees
We have already mentioned that the queen can determine the gender of the other bees yet unborn. She does this by opening and closing the mouth of the spermatheca in which the sperm are stored, and which is connected by a small duct to the oviduct—the tube through which the eggs pass from the ovary. When the queen wishes to lay a female egg, she releases a minute amount of sperm from the spermatheca into the duct, to fertilize the egg. The egg will be fertilized only if she releases sperm. If no sperm emerges from the spermatheca, the egg will remain unfertilized. As a result of this process, entirely under the queen’s control, female bees emerge from the fertilized eggs and male bees, or drones, from the unfertilized ones.58
When scientists studied the question of how the queen bee can possess such a system and the criteria by which she determines gender, they arrived at very surprising results. Actually it’s the worker bees who determine the gender of the egg, despite the queen’s supervision of the process. That is because the queen lays an egg according to the kind of cell the workers have prepared for it. If the cell in which the queen is to lay an egg is a standard-size 5.2-millimeter (0.2-inch) female cell, then the queen performs fertilization and deposits in it an egg that will eventually hatch into a female bee. But if the queen comes across a larger 1-millimeter (0.03-inch) cell, then she lays an unfertilized egg in it. To put it another way, the queen lays as many drone eggs as the workers have prepared male bee cells for.59
The workers also determine the number of cells. On the basis of the needs of the hive, they decide how many worker and how many drone cells should be constructed, and how much space should be reserved for honey or pollen.60
If, as we have seen, the workers decide on the number of cells in light of the needs of the hive, prepare the dimensions of those cells according to that number, and thus direct the queen’s actions accordingly, a number of questions spring to mind: Is it possible for an insect to make minute calculations and decide on the cell size on its own? Or is it possible for any one insect to direct the actions of another? Of course not! Bees have very small brains, and entirely lack such attributes as thought, judgment or calculation. That being the case, it appears that there is another Power which controls the bees’ behavior. The explanation for the worker bees’ direction of the queen is both creatures’ acting under the inspiration of God, Who teaches both groups of insects how to behave.
Let us now stop for a moment and consider that all the details we have examined so far demonstrate exceedingly conscious behavior, a flawless social order in the lives of bees, and the existence of features and structures fully compatible to carry out that order.
Quite obviously, no bee can identify the millimetric variations in the dimensions of the cells itself, nor decide accordingly on the gender of the egg. We therefore need to ask the following: Who determines the number of workers and males needed in the hive, and when a new queen will be needed? Do the intelligence and consciousness of the bees who build the combs establish this order? Or consider the queen, an insect only a few centimeters long and with a brain consisting of very basic nerve connections. With its own limited intelligence, how can such a creature possibly understand the purpose behind the comb cells constructed and lay the appropriate egg in each one with no confusion ever arising?
What emerges as a result of this is the existence of a flawless supervision of bees. Yet that control is not exerted by the queen bee or a few other bees over tens of thousands of workers. It is actually the inspiration of God. Like all other species, bees behave according to the inspiration of God and maintain the flawless order we have been considering so far. God has created their bodily systems to be ideally suited to the lives they are to lead. He is the Creator of all:
Is He Who creates like him who does not create? So will you not pay heed? (Surat an-Nahl: 17)
[God is] the Originator of the heavens and Earth. When He decides on something, He just says to it, “Be!” and it is. (Surat al-Baqara: 117)
The Queen’s Authority Secretion
Under normal conditions, the worker bees do not construct any cells for queens. The presence of the queen in the hive prevents this. Only in exceptional circumstances does this situation change. To understand the conditions under which the workers will begin to prepare a new royal cell when a queen is already present, we should examine the secretion emitted by the queen.
All of the worker bees in the hive are female, yet unlike the queen, they are unable to lay eggs since their reproductive organs are not developed. This was an interesting cause for speculation among scientists for many years. We have already seen how the female larvae emerge as either queens or workers due to how much royal jelly they are fed during the larval stage. In fact, the workers too have reproductive organs when they are first hatched. Yet these never develop and become suitable for egg-laying. Scientists researched the reasons for this and eventually found the answer they were looking for.
The answer lies in a chemical secreted by the queen, which chemical not only informs the other bees that she, the queen, is alive and well, but also sterilizes all the other females in the colony. This chemical from the queen’s mandibular glands also allows members of the colony to recognize one another.61 The formula of this chemical is:
Another effect of this signal on the bees is it restrains them from constructing another royal cell for as long as the substance is present in the hive.
This substance also ensures discipline in the hive. Therefore, the queen needs to constantly produce enough of it in order for the hive to carry out all its everyday functions. This chemical released by the queen needs to reach all the bees in the hive, and the necessary level of queen substance for each worker has been established as an average of 0.1µg per day.62 It is the queen who maintains order in the hive, though it’s of course impossible for her to take a personal interest in all its tens of thousands of individual member bees.
The queen substance is constantly spread through the hive by up to a dozen bees that are always around her and care for her. These lick up the chemical from the queen’s body and transmit it to the other bees during food transfer, which takes place by mouth. During this process, the odor released by the queen is quickly transmitted to all other members of the colony. This means that all of the colony’s members share a common odor, distinguishing them from members of other colonies.
Any reduction in this secretion sets the workers into action, because they take it as a signal that that their queen has grown old, or that their colony has become excessively large. In either case, the workers need to take a number of measures.63
When the Queen Ages
As the queen bee grows older, her strength declines, and the consequences begin to be seen in the hive. The rate of her egg-laying slows down, for instance, and most important of all, there is a drop in the quantity of the substance she secretes. As we have seen, the odor of this substance prevents the workers from raising a new queen, so such indications are a sign for the worker bees. As its level reduces, the workers immediately begin to construct new royal cells and set about raising new queens.
Under normal circumstances, it is out of the question for a bee colony to suddenly find itself without a queen. That’s because when circumstances suddenly change and the colony finds itself facing the danger of having no queen, the worker bees immediately start feeding some of the existing larvae with royal jelly. 64
There is another important point here. As already noted, the cells for those larvae raised as queens are generally wider than the others. Under emergency circumstances, there is no possibility of the larvae to be raised as queens being transferred to larger queen cells. Their cells are of the standard worker size, which might pose a problem for the developing queens. Yet for the bees, it represents no difficulty.
In such an emergency, the workers start to tear down the walls of cells around those of the larvae being raised as queens. Their aim is to widen the regular cells and enlarge them into royal cells. Several worker cells are torn down for any single royal cell. The worker larvae inside them die, of course.65
Yet this loss is insignificant for the hive. The workers do this in order to ensure the survival of their colony as a whole. They prefer the survival of a few candidate queens to that of several workers. Following the preparation of the queen cells in this manner, the new potential queens are fed with royal jelly.
Shortly afterwards, the first of the specially reared queens emerges from her cell and sets about eliminating her rivals.
From the moment she emerges from the cell until leaving the hive, the queen is fully aware of what she needs to do. There is only one possible explanation for her conscious and goal-oriented behavior and the way in which she’s fully equipped with everything she needs to achieve that end. Bees possess a consciousness inspired in them by God, and engage in this behavior by His will.
The males, or drones, are the only exception in bee colonies, where every other individual has a number of responsibilities. The male bees make no contribution to the defense of the hive, nor to cleaning, nor to food gathering. Their only function is to fertilize the queen.66 Since the drones possess almost none of the features found in other bees, except for their reproductive organs, they are not able to serve any other purpose except fertilizing the queen.
There are very distinctive differences between male and female bees. Some of these may be listed as follows:
In winter, only female bees are to be found in the hive, because the males are either expelled from the hive or killed before winter’s arrival. As spring approaches, however, the worker bees begin to build cells for male eggs. The queen then lays in these cells eggs which will hatch into drones. The males emerge from these cells in early May.67
These months are generally when the old queen leaves the hive to establish a new colony and when new queens are raised in the hive. During this period, the new queen needs to engage in mating flights in order to be able to lay eggs, which is one of the reasons why the workers raise male bees.
Despite the male bees’ lack of abilities, the workers take great care of them until they mate with the queen. Five or six workers need to work non-stop to feed just one of the 400 to 500 male bees in the hive. In other words, some 2,000 to 3,000 worker bees do nothing else than care for the drones for a specific period of time.
No more than 10 males are necessary for the queen to mate. Nevertheless, a bee community raises hundreds of drones. Despite all the work that must be done in the hive, the workers spend a large part of their time taking care of the males. This task is most important because the queen has to find males when she departs on her mating flight. Bearing in mind the fact that bees have enemies such as dragonflies, and that the drones have no sting or venom to defend themselves with, one can more clearly see the importance of their being raised in large numbers.
Despite their serving no other purpose at all, the way that the drones receive enormous care from the workers for a specific period is an important precaution, taken for the security of the entire hive. There is of course a special purpose behind this—ensuring the continuity of the hive by avoiding any risk to the mating of the queen. The question therefore arises: How do the bees take such an important decision? Did they all assemble together to work out this strategy? Or did they, by chance, discover that it was a good strategy and somehow understand that it was necessary and decide to continue with it?
Bees cannot of course do any of this and make such decisions of their own accord. They have no decision-making mechanisms, nor the consciousness with which to outline a strategy and then put it into action. Like all other living things on Earth, they are fully submitted to God.
Were the number of male bees to be limited, then a number of problems might arise during the fertilization process. For example, some of them might fail to find the queen, or else fall prey to their many predators. That might lead to the queen’s spermatheca not being filled sufficiently, and thus to the eventual production of an insufficient number of bees in the hive. Yet no such thing ever actually happens. There are sufficient males in every hive. The workers conform to God’s inspiration and look after the drones, who wander around the hive until the end of the mating period and do no work.
The Special Characteristics of the Drones, Mating and Afterwards
The male bees leave the hive and start looking for the queen some two weeks after they emerge from their cells. During the males’ mating period, a new function of the substance given off by the queen emerges: Thanks to it, the males can locate the queen during her mating flight. As if to compensate, the bodies of the males possess a number of anatomical features superior to those of the hive’s female workers and the queen. For example, the drones’ compound eyes have a larger number of facets (from 8,000 to 10,000) than those of the females. There are about 2,600 smelling pores on the males’ antennae.68 Their wings are also more powerful than those of the workers.
Careful inspection shows that the males, with their very different features to those of the females, are created for a specific end—that is, for them to locate the queen with little difficulty. The males need to be able to fly at a height for long periods while searching for the queen and to be able to locate her fragrance from a long distance away. Therefore the males possess these attributes, which are very different from those of the other bees in the hive.
The fact that every living thing possesses the features necessary for it is just one of the indications of the flawless order in the universe. Such an order absolutely cannot have come about by chance. It is God Who creates all living things, together with the characteristics essential to them. This order that prevails throughout the entire universe is just one of the proofs of God’s limitless creative artistry.
The Male Bees’ Inevitable End
The queen and the male generally meet at high altitudes. The males are unable to approach the queen at lower than 4.5 meters (14.76 feet). During mating, part of the males’ reproductive organs, including the sperm sac, rupture, and as soon as mating is completed, the male bee dies.69 Neither do the other males who fail to mate with the queen have much longer to live. Males live only in spring and early summer, after which they are killed by the workers. Once the time of the mating flight is over—and as the nectar levels in flowers start to decline in the heat of summer—the workers’ behavior towards the males changes completely. Although the workers look after the males very carefully during the mating period, once that period is over, they start to tear off the drones’ wings and attack them. If the males try to eat anything, the workers seize them in their powerful mouths and drag them by their antennae or legs to the hive entrance and throw them out.
Expelled in this way, the males soon die of hunger, since they lack the ability to find food for themselves. Therefore, they make determined efforts to re-enter the hive. Yet again they face the bites and poisoned stings of the workers. Although the drones are larger than the workers, they are unable to withstand this attack.70 Following the expulsion of the males from the hive, the females—both workers and the queen—spend a long time in the hive, until spring the following year, on their own.
Now, consider the situation of the male bees in the light of evolutionist claims. As just described, the males die shortly after their mating. This is one form of behavior that evolutionists cannot explain. The way that the drone risks death and embarks on the mating flight for the hive’s benefit is behavior totally at odds with the concept of the “struggle for survival.” If the mechanisms that evolution claims to exist in nature really did so, then the males should long since have undergone an evolutionary process that worked more in their favor. Yet for millions of years, male bees have been embarking on mating flights that will lead to their deaths.
In short, it is impossible to account for this example of self-sacrifice among bees by means of any claims from the theory of evolution. There can be only one explanation for a living thing ignoring its own safety and seeking to ensure the security and well-beings of other, unborn members of its own group: The order established in the beehive has been set out by a Creator possessed of a most superior intellect, one Who has given very different tasks to every bee within the hive. Bees living in any hive behave in accordance with those tasks entrusted to them, and sacrifice their lives if necessary for their sake. The important thing is continuity of the group order, and the necessary self-sacrifice for this occurs not by the will of the bees—who lack any conscious judgment—but through the will of Him Who rules them. In other words, the drones embark on their mating flight in obedience to the command of God Who created them, and ensure the continued existence of the hive at the cost of their own lives.
Population Planning in the Hive
Thanks to the special organization within the hive, the thousands of female bees in it occupy themselves with work inside and outside the hive, rather than looking after the drones, who serve no purpose, all through the winter. It is essential that the hive get through the winter. More individual bees would necessitate a larger stock of food, for which more honeycombs would need to be produced and therefore, a greater communal effort made. Moreover, the drones are larger than the females and taking care of them is even harder work.
When necessary, if their food stocks are insufficient, the bees do not stop at killing off all the males. They can also destroy the eggs and larvae to reduce the numbers in the colony.
As the bees carry out their population planning in the hive they can gradually, and in a controlled manner, eliminate new individuals at the larval and pupal stages. It has been observed that this method reduces the population by one-fifth.71
As this account has shown so far, there is a flawless control and order in the lives of bees. This order in the hive, capable of responding to all the bees’ needs, is a sign that they were created by God. God creates all living things with the greatest wisdom. The task of intelligent people is to consider these living creatures and draw the obvious conclusions.
1- Hayvanlar Ansiklopedisi, C.B.P.C. Publishing Ltd./Phoesbus Publishing Company 1969/77 s.98
2- Encyc. Americana, 1993, USA, Vol.3, Int. Headquartes, Danbur Connecticut, s.439
3- Encyc. Int. Grolier of Canada Ltd. 1968, USA, Vol.2, s.473
4- Encyc. Americana, 1993, USA, Vol.3, Int. Headquartes, Danbury Connecticut; s.439
5- Compton's Pictured Encyc. Vol 2, Compton&Company Chicago, 1961 USA, s.106
6- Prof.Dr. Ali Demirsoy, Yaşamın Temel Kuralları, Omurgasızlar/ Böcekler, Entomoloji Cilt.II/Kısım-II, Ankara; s.43
7- Compton's Pictured Encyc. Vol.2, Compton&Company Chicago,1961, USA, s.108
8- Prof. Karl von Frisch, Aus Dem Leben Der Bienen, Verständliche Wissenschaft Band 1, 8.Auşage, s.51
9- Gordon R. Taylor, The Great Evolution Mystery, Harper&Row Publishers, 1983, s.222
10- Francis Darwin, The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Cilt 1, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1888, s.374
11- Charles Darwin, Türlerin Kökeni, Onu Yayınları 5. Baskı, Ankara, 1996, s.273
12- Francis Darwin, The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Cilt.II, New York:D. Appleton and Company, 1888, s.111
13- Charles Darwin, Türlerin Kökeni, s. 310
14- National Geographic Society, The Marvels of Animal Behaviour 1972, s.127
15- Mark L. Winston, The Biology of the Honey Bee, Harvard Unv. Press, 1991, s.96
16- Mark L. Winston, The Biology of the Honey Bee, Harvard Unv. Press, 1991, s.97
17- Compton's Pictured Enc. Vol.2, Compton&Company Chicago 1961, USA, s.106
18- Compton's Pictured Enc. Vol.2, Compton&Company Chicago 1961, USA, s.106
19- Hayvanlar Ansiklopedisi, Böcekler, C.B.P.C. Publishing Ltd./ Phoesbus Publishing Company 1969/77, s. 97
20- Prof. Karl von Frisch, Arıların Hayatı, s. 75
21- Mark L. Winston, The Biology of the Honey Bee, Harvard Unv. Press, 1991, s.96
22- Mark L. Winston, The Biology of the Honey Bee, Harvard Unv. Press, 1991, s.85
23- Prof. Karl von Frisch, Animal Architecture, A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book/Harcourt Brace Jovanavich, Inc. New York and London; s.95
24- Prof. Karl von Frisch, Animal Architecture, A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book/Harcourt Brace Jovanavich, Inc. New York and London; s.94
25- Mark L. Winston, The Biology of the Honey Bee, Harvard Unv. Press, 1991, s.100
26- Mark L. Winston, The Biology of the Honey Bee, Harvard Unv. Press, 1991, s.96
27- Russel Freedman, How Animals Defend Their Young?E.P. Dutton, New York, 1978, s. 63
28- Prof. Karl von Frisch, Arıların Hayatı, s.29-30
29- Mark L. Winston, The Biology of the Honey Bee, Harvard Unv. Press, 1991, s.58
30- Prof. Karl von Frisch, Arıların Hayatı, s.36-37
31- Mark L. Winston, The Biology of the Honey Bee, Harvard Unv. Press, 1991, s.25-26
32- Prof. Dr. Ali Demirsoy, Yaşamın Temel Kuralları, Entomoloji, Cilt 2, Ankara 1992, s. 677
33- Mark L. Winston, The Biology of the Honey Bee, Harvard Unv. Press, 1991, S:19-20
34- Prof. Dr. Ali Demirsoy, Yaşamın Temel Kuralları, Entomoloji, Cilt 2, Ankara 1992, s. 676
35- Prof. Karl von Frisch, Arıların Hayatı, s. 127-128
36- Mark L. Winston, The Biology of the Honey Bee, Harvard Unv. Press, 1991, s.107-109
37- Prof. Karl von Frisch, Animal Architecture, A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book/Harcourt Brace Jovanavich, Inc. New York and London; s.87
38- National Geographic Society, The Marvels of Animal Behaviour, s.49-64
39- National Geographic Society, The Marvels of Behaviour, 1972, s.49-64
40- Murray Hoyt, The World of Bees, Coward Mcnann Inc, New York, 1965, s.146
41- C.D. Mitchener, The Social Behavior of Bees, 1974
42- Mark L. Winston, The Biology of the Honey Bee, Harvard Unv. Press, 1991, s.101
43- National Geographic Society, Marvels of Animal Behaviour, 1972, s.49-64
44- Thomas A.Sebeok, Animal Communication, Indiana Unv. Press London; s.437
45- Compton's Pictured Ency. Vol.2, Compton & Comp. Chicago, USA, 1961, s.106
46- Prof.Dr. Ali Demirsoy, Yaşamın Temel Kuralları, Omurgasızlar/ Böcekler, Entomoloji Cilt II / Kısım -II, Ankara; s.212
47- Murray Hoyt, The World of Bees, Coward Mcnann Inc, New York, 1965; s.45-58
48- Edward O.Wilson, The Insect Societies, Harvard Unv. Press, Cambridge, Massachussetts, 1972
49- Murray Hoyt, The World of Bees, Coward Mcnann Inc, New York, 1965; s. 49
50- Thomas A.Sebeok, Animal Communication, Indiana Unv. Press, London, s.218
51- Edward O.Wilson, The Insect Societies, Harvard Unv. Press, Cambridge, Massachussetts, 1972
52- Prof. Karl von Frisch, Aus Dem Leben Der Bienen, Verständliche Wissenschaft Band 1, 8.Auşage, s. 56
53- Murray Hoyt, The World of Bees, Coward Mcnann Inc, New York, 1965; s.52
54- Encyc. Americana, 1993, USA, Vol.3, Int. Headquartes, Danbury Connecticut, s.440
55- New Encyc. of Science, Orbis Publishing, 1985, Vol.2, s.218
56- New Encycl. of Science, Orbis Publishing, 1985, Vol 2, s.217
57- Prof. Karl von Frisch, Aus Dem Leben Der Bienen, Verständliche Wissenschaft Band 1, 8.Auşage, s.47
58- Prof. Karl von Frisch, Arıların Hayatı, s. 55-56
59- Prof. Karl von Frisch, Aus Dem Leben Der Bienen, Verständliche Wissenschaft Band 1, 8.Auşage, s. 57
60- Moddy Science Classics, Moody Video, City of the Bees, , Chicago, A.B.D.,1998
61- The New Eny. Britannica, Sensory Reception, Vol 27, s. 134
62- Edward O.Wilson, The Insect Societies, Harvard Unv. Press, Cambridge, Massachussetts, 1972, s.96
63- Mark L. Winston, The Biology of the Honey Bee, Harvard Unv. Press, 1991, s.130
64- Murray Hoyt, The World of Bees, Coward Mcnann Inc, New York, 1965; s.40
65- Murray Hoyt, The World of Bees, Coward Mcnann Inc, New York, 1965
66- Hayvanlar Ansiklopedisi, Böcekler, C.B.P.C. Publishing Ltd./Phoesbus Publishing Company, ‹stanbul, 1979; s. 97
67- Prof. Karl von Frisch, Aus Dem Leben Der Bienen, Verständliche Wissenschaft Band 1, 8.Auşage, s. 64
68- Compton's Pictured Encyc. Vol.2, Compton&Comp. Chicago, USA, 1961,Vol.2 s. 108
69- Prof.Dr. Ali Demirsoy, Yaşamın Temel Kuralları, Omurgasızlar/ Böcekler, Entomoloji Cilt II/ Kısım -II, Ankara; s.679
70- Prof. Karl von Frisch, Aus Dem Leben Der Bienen, Verständliche Wissenschaft Band 1, 8.Auşage, s. 65
71- Compton's Pictured Ency. Vol.2, Compton&Comp. Chicago, USA, 1961, s.108