"Bee Havior" = A leadership culture!

A beautiful Bumble Bee on my Butterfly Bush
"That which is not good for the bee-hive cannot be good for the bees" - Marcus Aurelius

Towards the end of the summer with the flowers bursting out in both color and fragrance, the bugs get really active and wild. The crickets and cicadas drone on in a harmonious symphony and I laugh whenever I see my feisty humming birds bomb diving for  flowers. The end of  summer energizes and motivates the garden creatures because they know that winter is not far away.....I just love watching all the activity and thinking how lazy we are in comparison!

September and early October are the busiest time of  the season for bees and wasps. They are in a frenzy to gather food for the winter and intently grab every grain of pollen that they can. Wasps in particular can be very aggressive. They are voracious and if they feel threatened in the least, they go berserk. Wasps are drawn to me  like water. There could be 100 people standing around and I'm the one that gets stung! One time, I was stomping in frustration on mole hills in my garden and I unknowingly stomped on an underground hive. I screamed  and ran like mad as a hoard of wasps chased me. I never made that mistake again! (I was only stung twice by the way..)  Honey Bees and Bumble Bees are quite tame in comparison. They perish when they sting so they are less likely to do so. I'm never scared around them and I have even pet Bumble Bees without incident. 

As I sat in the sun in my garden last week, I was intrigued by all the bee activity around me. They were so purposeful and focused, zinging this way and that. You would think that with all the flying about by so many bees, that there would be overlapping visits to flowers and mass confusion. Not so! Each bee seemed to be leading the way. Who was the leader? The Queen was housed up in the hive so someone had to be empowering all these bees...
Bees are obviously very social creatures. There are several generations living within a hive and the bees care for each other's offspring. The hive has a queen bee along with a few male drones (who like to eat a lot and are pretty lazy!). The remaining bees are female worker bees. The queen is more of a captive than a true "leader". Bees are actually smart little buggers. They are sensitive to taste, odor, communicate through dancing and pheromones, think, and even have individual personalities! As members of the group, they lead the hive and mimic human traits like being hard workers, cooperative, sharing decisions, and working towards a prime goal - survival of the hive. Contrary to what I have always believed, the queen does not make all the decisions - the workers do. For instance, the forger bees aren't mindless and actually make critical decisions as a group relating to forging for pollen. Moreover, the group decides when the hive is becoming too large or is deteriorating and they organize a team to leave the hive and start a new one with an appointed queen. Interestingly  enough, the hive becomes very disorganized and chaotic if there is no queen in residence. The hive can become aggressive and confused. The queen doesn't work much other than bearing young so, her status is what many of us have always suspected of royalty - they are figureheads! Orkin
If you find a bee hive in your yard, just sit back for a few and watch them with fascination. As long as you don't threaten the hive, they will ignore you. They each know their job, they are skilled and experienced in communicating their progress with the team, what looks like chaos is a planned strategy, and they are busy! What I find so fascinating is how dedicated the bees are in working together and how they all seem to be equal leaders. The queen has her role, but the worker bees run the show. What a great culture!
I hate to admit it, but there is a lot that we can learn from bees! Consider this.......
  • Bees take the time to listen to each other and communicate. They know the future of the hive depends on it.
  • They seem to practice some type of "groupthink" but still think independently and share alternatives.
  • Bees work smart and pace themselves in the hive. They can't afford burnout within the worker bee ranks.
  • They work together with one agenda to meet goals. They know the consequences if they don't!
  • They build consensus as a group and don't deviate unless threatened - then they adapt and change.
  • The hive has order and isn't micromanaged - they can make decisions for the good of the hive. There's "wiggle" room to try something different if it protects the hive.
  • They exhibit a sense of responsibility to each other and the hive.
  • Bees "trust" one another. For example, When a bee communicates where some great flowers are, the fellow bees don't question the source - they take it at face value and forge out!
  • They stick to the jobs that they are assigned to and don't fight for a promotion.
  • Bees are smart and quick learners. They know their goal (survival) and set their path. They maintain a balance in the hive and kick out any bees that are unhealthy in the hive in order to keep on course.
In short? We can all learn a lot from the bees in our yards. Better yet? Leaders should look at bee behavior and model some of their traits in the workplace. What a great work culture it would be if we were all valued for our intelligence and comfortable in working together to meets goals - no hidden agendas or turf wars. How great if we trusted one another, yet were open to adapting and make change  without sacrificing our individuality. A balanced and fair culture would be so satisfying and productive. Perhaps managers should have small beehives nearby to remind them of what can - and should -Bee!!!!!!
What "Bee Havior" would you like to see where you work and what would it take for you - or your manager- to make changes to "The Hive"??