Why do bees make hexagons in their hives? Why not any other shape? -Aditya, 10, New Delhi, India
When bees make hexagons in their hives, the six-sided shapes fit together perfectly. In fact, we’ve actually never seen bees make any other shape. That’s what I found out when I visited my friend Sue Cobey, a bee researcher at Washington State University.
Cobey showed me some honeycombs where the female bees live and work. Hexagons are useful shapes. They can hold the queen bee’s eggs and store the pollen and honey the worker bees bring to the hive.
When you think about it, making circles wouldn’t work too well. It would leave gaps in the honeycomb. The worker bees could use triangles or squares for storage. Those wouldn’t leave gaps. But the hexagon is the strongest, most useful shape. » More …
If mollusks have such heavy shells to drag around with them, how have they spread all over the ocean? -Michel W.
Mollusks, from land snails and slugs to oysters and mussels in the sea, have a few things in common. They have a head. They have a soft middle part that holds their organs. Then, some have a muscle that’s known as a “foot.” » More …
Dr. Universe: Is the puffin a descendent of the dodo?
-Samykutha, Chennai, India
The dodo bird isn’t with us anymore, but if you visit a city park you’ll likely see one of its very close relatives walking around. It might even be nibbling on a French fry. Dodos were a pigeon, said my friend Michael Webster. » More …
Why do people and animals get cancer more than they used to? -Michael, Ceres, CA
A hundred years ago, human beings only lived to be about 50 years old. Now people are living longer, so there’s more time for cancer to develop in their bodies. That’s what I learned from my friend David Liu who researches cancer at Washington State University. » More …
I saw a caterpillar and a butterfly in the neighbor’s yard. So my question is, what exactly happens inside the little sack they’re in while they transform into a butterfly and HOW exactly do they do it? -Eston
Springtime sets the stage for one of the greatest transformations in the natural world.
“It’s the construction of a butterfly or moth from caterpillar soup,” said my friend David James, an entomologist at Washington State University. James studies the science behind metamorphosis, or how a creature transforms. » More …