The hives do not resemble those found in other bee populations in a number of ways:
• The hives have an intricate, clockwise spiraling design.
• Each hive features only one entrance.
• The hive entrances are coated with a pathogen-blocking sticky layer, an extra line of defense for the bees which, according to Heard, “do not have a sting although they can give you a little bite with their jaws.”
Heard maintains as many as 400 of the hives at a time and says that the shape is most likely created out of necessity to protect the integrity of the core of the hive: “What we’re looking at is the advancing front of a stingless bee colony,” he says, adding, “In the middle of the spiral, you have to construct cells that move with the change.”
Some scientists also offer up the theory that the shape creates better conditions for air circulation.
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