"Team “Bee”-havior"
by Ronald C. Reece, Ph.D.

Whether in a family or work environment, thinking of the group as a team makes sense. I often counsel with 10-15 year olds about what kind of team player they are within their family. Family is actually the first place in which we learn to belong to a team. In the workplace, teams are common. A team is any number of people (exceeding one) who cooperate to achieve a common goal or purpose. Teams develop and manufacture products, and teams deliver services of all types.  Some teams – like the Red Sox - take years to pull it together. If your team is not working together, consider a lesson in team “bee”-havior.

Parallels in nature are often valuable as we look at human interactions. For years, I was a keeper of honeybees. Fascinated with them as a child, I finally got my own hives at age 36.  Talk about a team! Bees know how to do it. The hive is a magnificent place with each of the 75,000 to 100,000 bees knowing exactly what its particular purpose is. The complex nature of interactions and level of communication is truly unmatched. There is no confusion. There is a CEO, the queen, and her court, the VPs along with drones, and workers.  There are bees that nurse the young, others that scout for raw materials and still others who guard the entry and so on. The teamwork of these hive members is excellent and the results are sweet. The product is honey and it is the source of food for the hive. Now consider that it takes 156,000 hours to produce one teaspoon of honey and a strong hive will produce many pounds in a season.  I wish I could be that deliberate day after day. 

Successful teams have good members who make individual sacrifices and perform on behalf of the team in accordance with the goals of the organization. Worker bees will travel miles a day to find pollen and nectar and bring it back. Their life span is only about six weeks and by the third week, close examination of their wings reveals tears and tatters from the extreme wear and tear.  Busy as a bee is indeed a truism.

Human teams are also more successful when they assist others. Looking beyond to a greater good or wide spread contribution to the whole of nature increases a sense of well being in humans. Guess what? Honeybees do that as well.  As they work within their team purpose to produce their product, day after day they significantly contribute to our well-being.  They pollinate our fruits, vegetables and flowers.

So many parallels but one glaring difference. There are no egos in the hive. All Team  “Bee”-havior is directed instinctively by the motive of ‘what’s in it for us?’ not ‘what’s in it for me?’ Oh well, we are still evolving.

© Reece & Associates, P.A.