The honeybee has a body that varies in length between 1cm and 3cm, and that is divided into three parts: head, thorax and abdomen. The verse quoted above stresses that in the individual female bee there are “abdomens,” which in Arabic is “butuniha,” the “ha” referring to a singular female bee. If the plural of the word “abdomen” was meant to refer to the female bees, then the plural female pronoun “hunna” would be attached to the verb “butuniha.” This makes clear the segmented abdomen of the bee. Inside the abdomen there are two stomachs or crops. When collecting the nectar from flowers, nectar is stored in this honey stomach for transport back to the hive. At the rear of the honey stomach is a valve that prevents stored nectar from passing on into the rear portion of the digestive system, except for the small amount needed by the bee to sustain life. The hind portion of the bee’s body is the abdomen that is made up of segments in the form of rings. The abdomen of the bee functions as a chemistry laboratory to produce honey.
Then eat from all the fruits and flit about the spacious paths of your Lord. There issues from within her abdomens a drink of varying colors, wherein is healing for the people. Verily in this is a sign for those who understand.(16:69)
The colors of honey vary as stated in the Quran. They change according to the climate, season and weather conditions and the sources where nectar is obtained. The color of honey ranges from dark brown to green, among which the light yellow is preferred. In the honey industry, modern countries with developed techniques use a colorimeter to establish the exact description of honey’s color.
THE HONEY DANCES OF BEES
At the beginning of the verse, reference is made to the collection of nectar. The female bees not only produce honey, but also assume the duty of collecting the raw material from flowers to be eventually transformed into honey. During this process of seeking the nectar, incredible phenomena occur.
The bee that has located the spot where there is nectar to be collected returns to the hive to inform her sisters about the location of flowers. The scout bees returning to the hive perform circular dances or tail-wagging movements on the comb. These dances indicate not only that the scouts have found nectar or pollen and that the other workers should go out and seek it, but they are actually performing an amazing charade that conveys precise information to their sisters about the direction and the distance of the location of a newfound source.
Sometimes a normal adult must attend a dance course for six weeks while a bee, whose lifetime is but six weeks, is able to perform a dance for communication purposes. The bee’s calculation on her way back to the hive is also of great interest. The bee makes her calculation according to the position of the sun. The sun changes its locality one degree per four minutes. The bee that has spotted the location of her food also calculates her return journey as directly and correctly as possible in relation to the sun. She performs this without any error. All these calculations and harmonious coexistence within the hive cannot possibly be explained by pure coincidence or after a six-week-long training. So, all these are innate in her as an endowment of the Creator.
THE HEALING POWER OF HONEY
The verse speaks of the nutritive property of honey, a product of female bees. The regenerative property of honey is confirmed by medical authorities. In addition to its rich vitamin content, among its components are also such minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, sodium, phosphorus as well as such metals as copper, iodine, iron, zinc, and hormones.
Thanks to the easy convertibility of its sugar content, it is easily assimilated. Honey facilitates the functioning of the brain, thanks to its other sugars. It contributes to the production of blood, to its cleansing and proper circulation. Honey provides for the requirement necessary for proper functioning of our physiology and also it is used externally in cosmetics and dermatology.
The fact that honey had healing properties was nothing new for communities all over the world. Therefore, I am not claiming that this was not a generally acknowledged fact at the time of the descent of the Quran. However there were also such superstitious beliefs as the healing effect of a camel’s urine, which was later falsely attributed to the Prophet in hadith books. The Quran never justifies any of such false ideas offered as elixirs. Had the Quran been a product of human imagination, it might also have contained at least a residue of such false beliefs.
The distribution of work of bees in a hive and the multiple tasks performed by bees is too complicated to explain within the scope of this book. The ventilation of the hive, regulating humidity and temperature, keeping a perfect hygienic medium in the hive; guarding the hive, discarding the unwanted foreign matter, dead bees, etc., secreting wax, propolis, all are amazing tasks. How can a bee, whose lifetime is but six weeks, know and perform such grandiose artistry? Without an intelligent Creator the fortuity of all these data is certainly unimaginable. Every inquirer into the doings of a bee – to whose properties there are references in the Quran – will observe the sublime artistry of God in the entity of an insect.
Also in your creation and spreading of the animals are signs for people of assured faith. (45:4)