René Réamur (1683 - 1757)

The uniformity of cell size is such that a French scientist René Réamur proposed the cell of the honey bee as a standard measure. René Antoine Ferchault Réamur was known as the "Historian of the bees", his "Natural History of the Bees" is a classic in its field.

Although the hexagonal cells do vary slightly under different conditions the following anecdote quoted from Edwin Way's "The Golden Throng" demonstrates this uniformity.

"An instance which illustrates this fact was related to me by a New York diemaker. Sometime ago, he was commissioned to produce a zinc die for pressing honeycomb into the foundations used in beehives. The die was completed; the comb foundations made. Then it was discovered the bees refused to use them. A check up revealed that the workman who had laid out the die had been off on his cell dimensions, a tiny fraction of an inch. When the die was redesigned and the error eliminated, the insects accepted the new foundations and built their cells upon them."

If accessed directly, this page should be viewed as part of the series starting here.

Micscape Magazine September 1998.

© Ltd, Microscopy-UK, and all contributors 1995 onwards. All rights reserved. Main site is at with full mirror at