Lessons From Mother Nature – The Bee Hive

Managing employees

The honeybee’s hive is approximately between 50 000 and 60 000 strong, it has one leader, no managers and it has the ability to communicate efficiently and effectively to the entire hive critical information related to its survival. How can this perfect communication ecosystem exist and what can we learn from them to implement into our businesses?

The Structure Of A Hive

The efficiency of the hive begins by having clearly defined goals about what needs to be done to keep the hive running at peak efficiency. All of the bees share a common goal and have precisely defined roles and responsibilities.

There is the queen whose responsibilities lie in creating offspring and omitting pheromones to manage the other bees.

The drones are the males who only exist to breed with the queen

And then you have the workers who harvest the pollen, maintain the hive and raise the larvae.

When each bee is born [read: hired] into a hive [read: team] they are done so with a very specific role. You will never see a drone attending the young, like you would never see the queen out foraging for food.  

So there are very clear roles to ensure that the hive has enough bees to man the command centre and to ensure that the bees have suitable skills to complete their jobs properly (which really is a no brainer in business but still I see business not doing this). However, how do the teams within a hive work together when the team you are a part of is in excess of 50 000 members? What I am getting at is, if you are a worker bee -- how do you know when it’s your turn to look after the larvae, when is it your day to head out foraging and how do you know if there is an intruder, or something wrong with the queen?

In an organisation of this size communication is more than essential, it must be perfected for lightening response and pin point accuracy. How do they do this? Well it happens in two forms.

Communicating With An Army Of 50 000+

The status of the hive and the work required internally is governed by the leader. The queen sends out pheromones that tell the bees what needs to be done, the status of the hive and also controls the bee’s behaviour.

The information required from outside of the hive, for example the location of fields of pollen, is communicated from worker bees to their colleagues via a dance. This dance tells them the exact coordinates of the pollen, much like a GPS does for us when we are trying to navigate a new city.

Bees have this communication thing sorted. They are aware that without communication their hive would not survive and chaos would follow.

Now while I wouldn’t expect you to go out dancing in front of your team or spraying them with a scent it is important to recognise just how complex a system the hive has devised to ensure that communication flows perfectly. If Mother Nature goes to this extent to get communication right, why does it become a secondary thought in business?

What are six things that you immediately take away and implement into your business?

1. Have a clearly defined goal that the team is motivated and committed to working toward and achieving

2. Ensure everybody knows exactly what their role is and what they are responsible for. This includes knowing the roles of others.

3. Ask your team where they feel the biggest breakdowns in communication lie. It is quite easy for management to oversee the little things when they are focused on driving the big picture.

4. Check in with your business requirements and look for technology that can help you simplify. For example, Trello can help with project management or just general day-to-day activities and Get Timely is a super easy way to manage appointment setting with clients and customers.

5. Continuously look for easier ways to get things done (don’t forget to ask your team, they’re full of great ideas)

6. Ask your team their opinion of current communication avenues and how they would like to see them improved.


Darcey Pollard

Darcey Pollard

Retail Capability and Product Trainer at Mr Darcey & Associates

Mr Darcey & Associates

Mr Darcey & Associates 19 FOLLOWERS

Consulting and strategy


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Ling Lee

Ling Lee , at Digital Marketing and Personal Branding

Great article Darcey! Love your 6 tips. I can definitely relate to no.4, and I think no.5 is so underrated. I once spent one week trying to figure out a problem which ended up being solved by a friend in 10 secs.