THE WORLD OF INSECTS

THE HONEY BEE

It is well known by almost everyone that honey is a fundamental food source for the human body, whereas only a few people are aware of the extraordinary qualities of its producer, the honey bee.

As we know, the food source of bees is nectar, which is not found during winter. For this reason, they combine the nectar collected in summer time with special secretions of their body, produce a new nutrient - honey - and store it for the coming winter months.

It is noteworthy that the amount of honey stored by bees is much greater than their actual need. The first question that comes to mind is why do the bees not give up this "excess production", which seems a waste of time and energy for them? The answer to this question is hidden in the "inspiration" stated in the verse to have been given the bee.


 
Bees produce honey not only for themselves but also for human beings. Bees, like many other natural beings, are also dedicated to the service of man, just as the chicken lays at least one egg a day although it does not need it, and the cow produces much more milk than its offspring needs.


And He has made everything in the heavens and everything in the earth subservient to you. It is all from Him. There are certainly signs in that for people who reflect.
(Surat al-Jathiyah: 13)

 
EXCELLENT organization IN THE HIVE


 The bees’ lives in the hive and their honey production are fascinating. Without going into too much detail, let us discover the basic features of the "social life" of bees. Bees must carry out numerous "tasks" and they manage all of them with excellent organization.
 
Regulation of humidity and ventilation: The humidity of the hive, which gives honey its highly protective quality, must be kept within certain limits. If humidity is over or under those limits, then the honey is spoiled and loses its protective and nutritious qualities. Similarly, the temperature in the hive has to be 32° C throughout 10 months of the year. In order to keep the temperature and humidity of the hive within certain limits, a special group takes charge of "ventilation".
 
On a hot day, bees can easily be observed ventilating the hive. The entrance of the hive fills with bees and clamping themselves to the wooden structure, they fan the hive with their wings. In a standard hive, air entering from one side is forced to leave from the other side. Extra ventilator bees work within the hive to push the air to all corners of the hive.
 
This ventilation system is also useful in protecting the hive from smoke and air pollution.
 
Health system: The efforts of the bees to preserve the quality of honey are not limited to the regulation of humidity and heat. A perfect healthcare system exists within the hive to keep all events that may result in the production of bacteria under control. The main purpose of this system is to remove all substances likely to cause bacteria production. The basic principle of this health system is to prevent foreign substances from entering the hive. To secure this, two guardians are always kept at the entrance of the hive. If a foreign substance or insect enters the hive despite this precaution, all bees act to remove it from the hive.

 

How do bees know that this substance is an ideal substance for embalming? How do bees produce a substance, which man can only produce in laboratory conditions and with the use of technology if he has a certain level of knowledge of chemistry? How do they know that a dead insect causes bacteria production and that embalming will prevent this?


For bigger foreign objects that cannot be removed from the hive, another protection mechanism is used. Bees "embalm" these foreign objects. They produce a substance called "propolis (bee resin)" with which they carry out the "embalming" process. Produced by adding special secretions to the resins they collect from trees like pine, poplar and acacia, the bee resin is also used to patch cracks in the hive. After being applied to the cracks by the bees, the resin dries as it reacts with air and forms a hard surface. Thus, it can stand against all kinds of external threats. Bees use this substance in most of their work.
 
At this point, many questions spring to mind. Propolis has the feature of not allowing any bacteria to live in it. This makes propolis an ideal substance for embalming.
 
And in your creation and all the creatures He has scattered about there are signs for people with certainty. (Surat al-Jathiyah: 4)

It is evident that the bee has neither any knowledge on this subject, nor a laboratory in its body.
The bee is only an insect 1-2 cm in size and it only does that with which its Lord has inspired it.

 

A LEADER IN THE HIVE: THE QUEEN BEE

There is an astonishing order in every stage of the social life of bees, with their many miraculous characteristics. The rules in the bee hives and bees’ scrupulous implementation of these rules is just one of these miraculous features. In addition to the rules in the hive, there is another important factor that regulates and supervises the order in their social life: the bees’ leader, in other words the queen.

It can be seen from a short examination of the bee hive that the worker bees devote very special attention to one bee much larger than themselves. This bee, the feeding, cleaning, and protection of which, as well as all its other needs, are taken care of by other bees, is the queen, who ensures the continuity of the colony.

The Queen: A Very Different Bee

The number of worker bees in a hive may be in the tens of thousands, though there is only one queen. The presence of the queen is of vital importance for the bees, because it is she who lays the eggs that ensure the survival of the colony. The privileged status of the queen begins right from the larva stage. Queens are raised in places with different features to those of other cells. This place where the queen is reared consists of specially prepared cells that hang down from the comb. Since the queen is larger in size than the other bees, it is natural that these cells should be built to be larger than other cells. (1)

The miraculous point here is that the egg that produces the queen is no different to those that produce worker bees.

Due to feeding differences, during the six-day larva stage, a queen bee with a very different appearance and functions to those of a normal female bee emerges. Worker bees are only given royal jelly for three days, whereas the queen is fed with this very valuable substance throughout the entire larval period (six days). (2) The content and amount of the royal jelly fed to the queen are carefully regulated. Research has shown that while the queen is given 10 mg of royal jelly throughout the larval stage, worker bees are only given 3 mg. Two living things, the queen bee and the worker bee, with various morphological (structural) differences between them emerge as a result of this feeding difference alone. (3)

Differences between the Queen and Other Bees

The queen differs from other bees in general structure and external appearance. For example, although the worker bees are female, so is the queen.  Their ovaries do not develop; in other words, they are sterile. A queen’s head and thorax (body section) are not much larger than those of worker bees. In total contrast to worker bees, the queen’s jaw lacks the appropriate structure for building wax cells. The queen also lacks the tough hairs that constitute the workers’ pollen sacs. One of the important differences is that, although the queen emerges from an identical egg, she has a life span of four to five years rather than the five to six weeks, (a few months in those around in the winter), of worker bees. This is again solely due to feeding differences.

These are just a few examples of the general differences between the queen and other bees. One point worthy of note here is that female bees emerge as queens or workers solely on the basis of nutritional differences. 

How Does the Queen Regulate the Gender of Other Bees?

One of the most extraordinary attributes of the queen bee is her ability to regulate the genders of the bees in the hive. The queen regulates gender by opening and closing the mouth of the sac in which sperm are preserved. This sac is connected to the egg laying tube by a thin channel. When the queen wishes to lay a female egg she contracts her muscles, drawing a few sperm from the small sac connected to the egg passage channel, and these fertilise the egg there. As a result of this function given to the queen, female bees hatch from fertilized eggs and males from non-fertilised ones. (4) Despite the queen bee’s regulation of the eggs, it is actually the workers who determine the egg’s gender. Because the egg-laying performed by the queen is carried out in accordance with the cell type prepared by the workers. If the cell the queen approaches is a 5.2 mm standard cell, she will lay a female egg, whereas if it is 1 mm larger, she will lay a male egg in it. (5)

Queen Bees Behave under Allah’s Inspiration

All of the details in the lives of queen bees we have examined so far reveal the existence of exceedingly conscious behaviour, a perfect social order, and of designs appropriate to that order. The organism referred to as the queen bee is actually an entity just a few centimetres in length with a brain consisting of very simple synapses. How is it possible for this animal to comprehend why the cells will be constructed and to lay the appropriate egg without confusing them, through its own will and intelligence?

From the moment she hatches to the moment she leaves the hive, the queen bee knows exactly what she has to do. In the verse, “Your Lord revealed to the bees…” (Surat An-Nahl, 68), Allah reveals that all the animal’s actions and the conscious behaviour it displays take place under His inspiration. As with all other living things, Almighty Allah has created queen bees with bodily systems that are completely appropriate to the lives they lead. He is the Creator of all. In one verse from the Qur’an, our Lord reveals: Is He who creates like him who does not create? So will you not pay heed? (Surat An-Nahl, 17)

The Queen’s Authority Substance

Worker bees do not construct queen cells under normal conditions. The presence of the queen in the hive prevents this. This only changes under exceptional circumstances. It will be useful here to examine the secretion known as queen’s substance, in order to understand for what reason workers feel the need to construct a queen cell when they already have a queen at their head. It is this substance that ensures discipline in the hive. For that reason, if all the functions in the hive are to be fully carried out, the queen has to secrete enough of it every day to go around all the bees in the hive. This has been calculated as an average of 0.1 mg per bee. (6)

Any reduction in this substance sets the worker bees in action. That is because a reduction in the royal secretion is regarded as a sign either that the queen is aging or that the colony is too large. In either case, there are certain steps the workers have to take. (7) It is the substance secreted by the queen which prevents the workers from raising a new queen. In the event of a drop in this substance, the workers immediately begin constructing new queen cells. Immediately after the queen lays an egg in these cells, the workers go into action to rear new queens. When conditions suddenly alter and the danger of the colony being left without a queen raises its head they begin feeding some of the already existing larvae on royal jelly and tearing down other cells around. (8)

REFERENCES:
1. Thomas A. Sebeok, Animal Communication, Indiana Univ. Press, London; p. 437
2. Compton's Pictured Encyclopaedia. Vol. 2, Compton & Comp. Chicago, USA, 1961, p.106
3. Prof. Ali Demirsoy, The Fundamental Laws of Life, Invertebrates/Insects, Entomology Vol. II / Part-II, Ankara; p. 212
4. Prof. Karl von Frisch, The Life of Bees, p. 55-56
5. Prof. Karl von Frisch, Aus Dem Leben Der Bienen, Verständliche Wissenschaft Band 1, 8.Auflage, p. 57
6. Edward O. Wilson, The Insect Societies, Harvard Unv. Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1972, p. 96
7.  Mark L. Winston, The Biology of the Honey Bee, Harvard Univ. Press, 1991, p.130
8. Murray Hoyt, The World of Bees, Coward Mcnann Inc, New York, 1965; p. 40

 

FROM A CATERPILLAR TO A BUTTERFLY

If you had 450-500 eggs and if you had to preserve them outside, what would you do? The wisest course for you would be to take precautions to prevent them from being scattered around, say, by the wind, or other environmental factors. Being one of the animals that lay the most eggs at one time (450-500), the silkworms use a very intelligent way to protect their eggs: they unite the eggs with a viscous substance (thread) they secrete to prevent them from being scattered around.
 
The caterpillars that pop out of their eggs firstly find a safe branch for themselves and then get tied to this branch with the same thread. Later, to promote their own development, they start to spin a cocoon for themselves with the thread they secrete. It takes 3-4 days for a caterpillar that has opened its eyes very recently to life to complete this process. During this period, the caterpillar makes thousands of turns and produces a thread an average of 900-1,500 metres long. At the end of this process, it starts a new task through which it undergoes a metamorphosis to become an elegant butterfly.
 
Neither the action taken by the mother silkworm to protect its eggs, nor the behaviour of a tiny caterpillar devoid of any awareness, education or knowledge can be explained by evolution. First of all, the ability of the mother to produce the thread it uses to secure its eggs is miraculous. The newly-born caterpillar's knowing the most suitable environment for itself, its spinning a cocoon in accordance with it, its undergoing a metamorphosis, and its coming through this metamorphosis without any problem are beyond human comprehension. Hence, we can simply say that each caterpillar is born into the world with a foreknowledge of what to do, which means that it was 'taught' all of these things before it was born.

 


 Let us explain this with an example. What would you think if you saw a new-born baby standing up a few hours after his birth, getting together the things he needs to make his bed (like quilt, pillow, mattress), and later putting all these together neatly, making his bed and lying down on it? After you recover from the shock of the event, you would probably think that the baby must have been taught in an extraordinary way in his mother's womb to perform such a process. The case of the caterpillars is no different from the baby in this example.
 
This again leads us to the same conclusions: these living creatures come into life, behave and live in the way determined by God Who has created them. The Qur'anic verse stating that God has inspired the honeybee and commanded it to make honey (Surat an-Nahl, 68-69) provides an example of the great secret of the world of living beings. This secret is that all living beings have bowed to God's will and follow the fate determined by Him. This is why the honeybee makes honey and the silkworm produces silk.

 
The Symmetry in Wings


 When we look at the butterfly wings in the pictures, we see a perfect symmetry prevailing over them. These lace-like wings are so adorned with patterns, spots and colours that each of them is like a work of art.
 
When you look at the wings of these butterflies, you notice that the patterns and colours on both sides are fully identical, no matter how intricate they may seem. Even the smallest dot is present on both wings, thereby introducing a flawless order and symmetry.
 
In addition, none of the colours on these thin wings mixes with the other, each being sharply set apart from the other. Actually, these colours are formed by the amassing of tiny scales clustered one on top of another. Isn't it a wonder how these small scales that are easily dispersed with your hand's slightest touch can be arranged in both wings without any mistake in their disposal so as to produce exactly the same pattern. Even the replacement of a single scale would destroy the symmetry in the wings and impair their aesthetics. However, you never see any muddle in the wings of any butterfly on the earth. They are as neat and elegant as if made by an artist. And they are indeed made by an Exalted Creator.