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Bees revolutionize anti-adhesion technology

Bees revolutionize anti-adhesion technology
Bees revolutionize anti-adhesion technology

Guided by nature's anti-adhesive strategies, scientists, including Prof. Dr. Oliver Schwarz MBA from the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology and Automation (IPA), delved into the exploration of propolis—a substance employed by bees to strengthen their hives. Focused on reducing adhesion challenges in industries, the study mimicked the intricate microstructure of bee mandibles, employing various techniques to create bioinspired surfaces. The goal: to understand how surface energy and microstructure influence the reduction in adhesion for challenging substances like propolis.

The surfaces, inspired by bee mandibles, ranged from roughened steel surfaces to lacquer structures with hexagonal patterns. Results showed that propolis adhesion was significantly reduced on certain bioinspired surfaces, opening avenues for innovative solutions in industries grappling with unwanted adhesion challenges.


Unwanted adhesion is a prevalent issue in many industries, leading to costly cleaning procedures. The biomimetic development process, inspired by nature's ingenious solutions, offers a promising path to address technical challenges. By leveraging the anti-adhesive strategies found in the natural world, industries can find innovative solutions to enhance efficiency and sustainability.

The study's biomimetic development process involved abstracting a specific problem, identifying analogous challenges in the natural world, and seeking inspiration from nature's anti-adhesive strategies. Nature's ability to prevent adhesion on surfaces has been a selective factor in biological evolution, influencing survival probabilities.

Propolis, a resin-based substance with adhesive properties used by honeybees, served as a key focus. Despite its adhesive nature, honeybees adeptly handle propolis, providing researchers with valuable insights. The study revealed the complex anatomy of honeybee mandibles, showcasing the spoon-shaped tip crucial for processing propolis

The potential applications of an effective anti-adhesive system, inspired by the fluid layer and microstructures on bee mandibles, extend across various industries. From woodworking, where resin-contaminated tools pose challenges, to other sectors dealing with adhesion issues, biomimetic solutions could revolutionize efficiency and sustainability.

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