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What Bees Can Teach Us About Business
What Bees Can Teach Us About Business


As I’ve pointed out on this blog before, I’m an introvert. Want to get me to open up? Just ask me about bees.

A little context: I attended Indiana Bee School last weekend (yep, there’s a bee school) to learn the basics of beekeeping. I took the class because this summer I plan is to keep a few hives here in Fountain Square.

Why bees? Here’s the short version. Honeybees do a lot of heavy lifting to keep life on our planet in balance. They make one third of our nutritious fruits and vegetables possible, and they function as a buzzing alarm system for our planet’s ecosystem.

But bees are in big trouble. They need help from humans, even those of us living in cities. I won’t get into my whole bee spiel here (if you wanna talk bees, hit me up), but suffice it to say, it’s a cause I’m passionate about.

Apart from that, bees are just plain fascinating. They accomplish some amazing things by working together as a hive. We can learn a lot by observing them, and maybe learn a lesson or two about our own work habits. Here’s what bees can teach us about business:

Communication is key.
After primates, bees have the most complex language out of any animal, and they even have a fairly advanced form of interpretive dance sign language, something no other insects come even close to having. Even ants. They might say “There’s a yummy patch of flowers 50 yards that way.” or “It’s time to move the hive.”

Team up. 
They don’t call it a “superorganism” for nothing. A hive, just like a business, is more than the sum of its parts. A hive of 50,000 workers can shift a lot of stuff. Cooperation is the key to their success: tens of thousands of individuals behaving as a single organism.

Learn to adapt. 
Being able to perform a full range of essential jobs makes bee ready to adapt at any moment. Bees move through a series of jobs in the hive: undertakers, nurses, food gatherers. In an emergency, they can revert to their former occupations to make up for losses.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more we can learn from these fuzzy little life-bringers. If you’re infatuated by the hive life like me, check out these documentaries:

Vanishing of the Bees
Queen of the Sun