We’ve all heard the phrase “busy as a bee.” The aptly named worker bees literally work themselves to death. In the barren winter, they may live several months, but in the work season when flowers are blooming, they may die after only a few weeks outside the hive. Their lives are cut short from the rigors of flying—sometimes dozens of miles each day. During its frenetic working lifetime, a single worker bee may add merely one-twelfth of a teaspoon of prized honey to its colony. Yet the power of the bee is in the cooperation of the colony. Together, an industrious colony may produce 150 pounds of honey during a year’s warm season.
The most unique display of cooperation is how honeybees dance to communicate the location of food sources. To give directions to fellow foragers, the bee performs the waggle dance in a figure-eight pattern. First, the returned bee trots over a number of cells. Then, the bee swings around in a half circle to come back to its starting point before completing a mirror image on the opposite side. The bee may make dozens of circuits. During the straight run, the bee’s tail wags rhythmically. The distance to the food source is measured by the number of wags, and the importance is measured by the excitement of the waggle. The foraging bee will also pass samples of nectar to other bees. The food scent remaining on the dancing bee helps searching bees know when they have found the correct source.
Most specifically, the angle of the bee’s straight run on the hive shows the bees the precise angle at which to fly relative to the sun. If the bee runs straight up the hive, the bees head straight into the sun. If the bee runs 60 degrees to the left, the bees will fly at a 60-degree angle to the left of the sun. A bee even makes compensation as the sun’s position changes through the passing of time. Thus, the bees can fly directly to a food source by decoding the waggle dance.
Once it finds a food source, the honeybee flies efficiently from flower to flower. Flowers produce sugary nectar, which attracts the bee. In exchange, the bee collects the flower’s pollen on its tiny hairs through an electrostatic charge. Roughly one third of humanity’s food source depends on insects like bees for pollination. The bee periodically grooms itself, collecting the pollen into a holding basket on its legs. This collected pollen nourishes the brood growing in the hive.
To change the nectar into honey, the bees first regurgitate the nectar. They add an enzyme called invertase, converting the sucrose to fructose and glucose. The bees fan the sugary liquid with their wings to evaporate the water content. Being denser than nectar, honey takes up less room in the hive, and is stable because of the high sugar content. While bees use some of their vast honey stores, these hardworking creatures can produce far more honey than they consume, much to the delight of people throughout history who have harvested honey.
After discussing the intricate design of the honeybee, ask your evolutionist friend some questions:
Many evolutionists have attempted to reason how the honeybee could have evolved. The ultimate question is this: Will you trust human reasoning or God’s Word, the Bible? Challenge your evolutionist friend to read the Creator’s Word, which is truth in an age of deception. Perhaps God will graciously grant a taste for his Word—a taste sweeter than honey.
How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalm 119:103)
Remember that everything was cursed because of man's sin (think specifically of the ground and serpent mentioned in Genesis 3). Death then intruded upon God’s perfect creation, so animals, people, and plants have had to fight for survival ever since. Because of the Curse, traits developed that would have been unnecessary before Adam sinned, like venom and stingers for attack and defense. Keep in mind, though, that not all deadly looking features necessarily had to develop! Fruit bats are a great example of how mean-looking teeth can work just as well for ripping apart vegetation, not flesh! For more about how and why deadly structures are now a part of our world, see “How Did Defense/Attack Structures Come About?”
Of course some animals are impressive for their beauty and design, too. Seeing things through the lens of Scripture, we see an all-wise and intelligent God who spoke animals into existence in a perfect world that was soon marred by sin and death. We can praise the Creator for a remnant of that incredible beauty and design still. And God has also thus provided us with examples of his intelligence and provision that we can put to good use in biomimicry. Join us in giving glory to God for his loving care for us and his creation, despite the curse.
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.