Bees and Your Business.
I’m a novice apiarists—AKA a beekeeper. For the past couple of years, I’ve been tending hives, and I’m slowly learning about this practice and tradition that goes back to Egyptian times, and beyond.
I got into beekeeping because I wanted to help the plight of the honey bee, for both pollination and declining population (due to pesticide use) reasons. But, what I’ve learned goes well beyond merely how to care for these amazing creatures, and these learnings can be applied to benefit to your culture and your brand.
Learning from the culture of bees:
- As above, so below. In the bee world, the queen rules the hive. She sets the tone for the collective, leads all growth, productivity, production, and even decides when it’s time to swam (the act of leaving the hive to find another home). If she is a happy, healthy, engaged queen, the colony follows suit. However, if she is agitated, nasty or unhealthy, the hive will follow that temperament. When this happens, chaos ensues. While this can sometimes be a good thing, because queens get replaced, it’s a delicate time for the survival of the hive. Some of the most susceptible times are when a colony is replacing its queen. Some hives survive, some don’t.
- Know your role and do your job. There are lots of roles in the hive: the queen bee, drones, collectors, checkers, etc. Each bee needs to know and do their role. When they don’t the colony suffers, and the unproductive bee is usually ousted. While everyone has a role, knows their role, and does their role, they also help out in any other way that the collective needs when the hive needs it. Their role is not their job. Their job is to ensure that hive thrives. Every hive member looks out for what’s best for the collective hive—and they do their role.
- Misbehavior is not tolerated. If a bee, in any role, including the queen is not doing their job, the hive turns on them, corrects their behavior or pushes them out the door. An extreme example of this is when drone bees lose their ability to incubate eggs; they are unceremoniously removed from the hive. There’s no room in the colony for those who don’t contribute.
- Greet everyone at the door. A particular role within the hive is what’s called “greeters” or “checkers.” These bees inspect returning bees from the outside habitat for diseases, mites, or other potential invaders. They can also read where the bee has been and get a sense for the environment, like where nectar can be found, the change of weather and seasons. Checkers have a read on what’s happening outside the hive and ensure that the right bees are coming into the hive healthily. And, I’ve noticed that checkers are like greeters, they welcome the bees from the outside world back into the collective. They seem to clean them, nurture them, and welcome them.
- Constant collection. The role of many of the bees in the hive is to collect nectar and return it to the colony for production into honey and wax. Honey feeds the bees. Wax creates the foundation for their home, including their meticulous and perfectly shaped cone. In the cone, each precisely the same size and shape, they lay and incubate eggs, store and cap honey and feed. To feed the hive and keep it growing constant nectar collection needs to take place. All bees continuously look out for the health and future of the collective.
- Chaos is part of the evolution. Hives go through transitions and change. Queen bees that have gone beyond their productive time are replaced. The colony goes through growth spurts, seasonality changes, and swarming. They pull together to prepare for hard times by storing honey. These are all natural shifts in the world of hives. The bees adapt and collaborate in the chaos that comes from changes.
- The pheromone factor. When a bee stings a predator or invader, for instance, it sends out sting pheromones, which alerts other bees to attack the identified weak spot. I know this from the experience of getting stung on my ankle, through my socks. Right after the sting, dozens of bees went after the same spot. Just like humans, bees sense things. The energy that’s given out is amplified. Just because it isn’t said, that doesn’t mean it’s not picked up on.
- Health + adaptivity + collaboration = productivity. When a hive is healthy, it is managing chaos and dealing well with change. It adapts to the changes outside the hive and continues to collaborate to ensure the hive is productive. If two queens are fighting for leadership of the hive, the collective is not populating nor making honey. When hive health is in place the opportunity for more collaboration takes place. For hives and humans, the more collaborative they are, the more productive they are.
I work with brands, leaders, teams, and bees to ensure they are healthy and productive, and doing good for the world.