The Honeycombs of 4-Dimensional Bees ft. Joe Hanson | Infinite Series

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Why is there a hexagonal structure in honeycombs? Why not squares? Or asymmetrical blobby shapes? In 36 B.C., the Roman scholar Marcus Terentius Varro wrote about two of the leading theories of the day. First: bees have six legs, so they must obviously prefer six-sided shapes. But that charming piece of numerology did not fool the geometers of day. They provided a second theory: Hexagons are the most efficient shape. Bees use wax to build the honeycombs -- and producing that wax expends bee energy. The ideal honeycomb structure is one that minimizes the amount of wax needed, while maximizing storage -- and the hexagonal structure does this best.

Written and Hosted by Kelsey Houston-Edwards
Produced by Rusty Ward
Graphics by Ray Lux
Assistant Editing and Sound Design by Mike Petrow
Made by Kornhaber Brown (

Nature paper

Hales’ proof of honeycomb conjecture:

Older article on honeycomb conjecture

Overview of proof of honeycomb conjecture

Kelvin --