The beehive has inspired Ford engineers to develop the 'honeycomb shelf' – a lightweight, secret boot shelf that can support 100 times its own weight, a strength-to-weight-ratio stronger than steel.
Developed for the EcoSport SUV and designed to conceal valuables that may be fragile, the adjustable shelf can support loads of more than 300kg – heavier than three average adult men, but weighing less than 3kg.
Bettina Veith, Ford EcoSport assistant chief engineer, said: “Nature is like one big innovation laboratory, and from bees to termites to beavers, animals are some of the world’s best engineers.
"The honeycomb’s ability to deliver strength without adding weight has already been put to good use in extreme applications like space rockets, jet planes and supercars, making it the natural choice to provide a super-strong platform for the EcoSport’s boot space.”
To create the “Honeycomb Shelf”, engineers sandwiched a layer of honeycomb-like cells consisting of recycled paper and a water-based glue between two layers of light and durable fibreglass.