Letter | Published:

Honeycomb Appearance of Water

Naturevolume 43page30 (1890) | Download Citation



THIS afternoon, while ascending a mountain pathway adown which water was trickling, after the torrents of rain that fell in the morning had ceased, I observed an appearance of the surface of running water so exactly like the hexagons of the bees' cells that I looked at it carefully for some time. Little air-bells of water seemed to issue from under the withered leaves lying in the tract, which rushed towards the hexagons, occupying an irregular space about four inches by five. As soon as these air-bells arrived at the hexagons, they arranged themselves into new cells, making up, apparently, for the loss occasioned by the continual bursting here and there of the cell-walls. No sooner had these cell-walls burst, than others closed in and took their places. The worst-formed hexagons were those at the under or lower side of the surface—the part of the surface farthest down the hill; here they were larger, and more like circles. By an ingenious mechanical theory, Darwin accounts for the hexagonal structures of the cells of the hive-bee so as to supersede the necessity of supposing that the hive-bee constructed its comb as if it were a mathematician. But here the blind forces of Nature, under peculiar conditions, had presented an appearance, on running water less than half an inch in depth, so entirely like the surface of a honeycomb, that it would be a startling result could it be reproduced in a laboratory.

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  1. Tynron

    • J. SHAW


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