In case you didn’t notice, I’m a little infatuated with bees. Just bees. Not a bug lover.
This obsession all started when my Russian Sage hedge grew ginormous and became the hot spot for all the cool bees in the neighborhood. I’d walk down the sidewalk next to my sage, and the air would virtually be vibrating with the hum of hundreds of bees gathering sweet nectar from lovely stalks of purple flowers. It wasn’t love at first sight. I would typically take a long detour arooouunnd the sidewalk, steering clear of the potential poke from a bee-gone-bad, until I realized they didn’t really care much that I was there. Then they began to intrigue me. I watched their laborious dance from flower to flower and began wondering… where did these bees live… what were they taking from the blooms… how did they carry whatever it was they took from the flowers… and then finally… wouldn’t it be cool if I had a beehive.
So there you have it. Bug hater to beekeeper in a nutshell. But I have to say, that’s not even close to the end of the story. My love affair with bees is totally built upon respect for what they do and how they do it. Interestingly enough, the structure of a bee colony parallels a productive business culture in so many ways.
Productive hierarchy The queen bee is what you would imagine – the ultimate ruler of the hive. But like a successful CEO, she works tirelessly and sets the pace and example for all the worker bees. While the queen’s only job is to lay up to 2,000 eggs a day – similar to a CEO’s responsibility to foster innovation and plant ideas for future growth – she always has the well-earned respect of her 60,000+ workers. Another interesting queen factoid is that the only difference between a queen and a worker is “royal jelly”, a type of special nutrition fed to a developing egg which provides the extra nourishment required to become a queen. I liken this bee colony aspect to the idea everyone has the potential to become great if exposed to the right secret sauce.
Everybody has a job, and every job needs a body In the beehive there is one queen, and thousands of female workers. A worker starts out as a housekeeper, progresses to nurse, then queen attendant, then comb builder and a number of other stages until finally she is elevated to forager or nectar gatherer. As the bees gain experience they are given more challenging roles, much like the progression of working up through the ranks at a company.
Dead weight Every hive has about 200 drones; male bees whose only job is to mate with a new queen. The queen is so important to a hive that the workers are constantly preparing resources to replace a failing queen. Drones are fed, cared for, and tolerated throughout the spring and summer months, but once temperatures begin to drop and the hive transitions to winter mode, drones are kicked out of the colony. Similar to corporate America, drones and non-productive staff place a drag on the available resources of a hive or company. So when times get lean, dead weight is the first burden to be relinquished.
Teamwork leads to sweet rewards Honey bees will tap about two million flowers and fly 50,000 miles to make one pound of honey. A single honey bee makes about 1½ teaspoons of honey during its lifetime with an average hive producing 30-60 pounds of honey each season. Because the complex hive operation isn’t typically visible, the perception exists that the single bee alone produces considerable amounts of honey. In reality this operation takes a tremendous amount of teamwork.
So back to answering “What’s up with the whole bee thing?” Part of the intrigue with my bees is their fascinating culture and the inner-workings of the hive. I find they are extremely efficient, vibrant, collaborative, and productive. Traits I hold valuable and strive to meet with every client I work for – hence the analogy used to develop my business name.
Plus, who doesn’t want to have Queen Bee as your job title?