Beautiful pictures of honeycomb formation

I am enchanted by these images of the process of honeycomb formation. An enterprising apiculturist put a glass bell over a hole in the top of a hive and took a series of photos as the bees extended their residence into the new atrium.

There’s been quite a bit of research on the self-organizing behaviors that result in these architectual patterns. For example, this paper by Belić, et al. describes how the workers build parallel combs hanging from the roof of an empty hive. It’s interesting to observe how the cylindrical chamber alters these dynamics, with the comb strands distributed relatively equally around the circumference.

Visit’s Curiosities for the full series.

Complex Adapative Systems

Swarm Leadership

atari-400National Geographic has a brief article about some interesting research at the University of Sussex.  The authors of this paper (irritatingly, behind a paywall and my University doesn’t have a subscription) suggest that swarm behavior may be disproportionately influenced by its most weakest, hungriest, or otherwise most desperate individuals.

This does suggest some interesting approaches for controlling (or subverting!) self-organizing systems.  I’m reminded of a paper I read recently by Franco Zambonelli, “Self-Management and the Many Facets of “Non-Self“, which suggests controlling swarm-inspired computing systems by introducing a (relatively smaller) number of manager agents that, by their actions, guide the overall collective behavior.

Photo Credit: CC-licensed image of a grackle swarm by Adam Baker