No Bees, No Honey, No Work, No Money – Proverb by R. Keith Gordon

A good business is like a beehive; at least, it should bee. (see what I did there?)

At our firm, we meet with businesses at all stages of development: from start-ups running out of garages or shared-rent spaces, to multi-national companies with offices across the globe.  Regardless of a company’s size, we tend to see a few “indicators of success” in the manner in which each of these businesses operate.

As a hobby Apiarist (Beekeeper), I see many similarities between well-structured businesses and a productive hive. For example:

The Queen – think of her as the CEO, Founder, or Managing Member.  She sets the tone for the hive and has a direct impact on the culture of the hive.  If you have aggressive bees, it is because of the influence of the Queen.  Her singular focus is the growth and expansion of the hive so that it survives the changing seasons, including the winter, when there is no incoming pollen or nectar.

Much the same, if you have toxic work culture, chances are you can find the root cause in the leadership.

Worker Bees­ – Worker Bees serve a variety of roles throughout their lives as they grow and mature.  These bees clean the hives, care for the eggs and larvae, transfer nectar, form new comb, guard the entrance, and ultimately serve the hive by travelling up to five miles away foraging for pollen, water, and nectar. Worker bees are not stuck in one role, are promoted as they mature, and are fully engaged in sustaining and growing the hive.

Engaged employees understand not only their current job role but the bigger picture, as they see what impact their work (or lack thereof) means for the greater good of the company. As these employees become more proficient in their current job roles, they are promoted and “gain their wings to fly.”

Drones – most people may not know that, while the majority of bees in a hive are females (Queens and Workers), many bees in the hive are males. A male bee’s purpose is to mate with virgin queens from other hives and carry on the genes of their own hive.  In the fall, when the mating season has passed, Drones are unceremoniously kicked out of the hive, and essentially starve to death.

This might be a stretch, but I see Drones as joint ventures and new growth opportunities for a business.  You have to take some chances to grow your business by finding strategic partnerships, spin-offs, mergers, etc. but also need to know when to pull back and focus on inner growth and development.

Honey (rhymes with money) – believe it or not, in a typical year, a hive of bees will travel over 50,000 miles collectively to produce ONE POUND of honey!  And even more astounding, an average worker bee only produces about 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.  Maintaining a hive is a tireless group effort that requires a singular focus by all involved.

Similarly, without dedication at all levels of the company, regardless of how good one new idea or widget is, a company cannot thrive or prosper, and ultimately, cannot make money.

So, what does this information mean for you? 

Three things- 1) hopefully you have a better understanding of the important roll each bee plays in its hive, 2) truly, bees really need our help right now. Support your local beekeepers and buy local products. Their work in turn supports healthy hives across the state as well as agriculture at all levels, and, 3) take a good look at your business and if you see problems, we would be happy to help you “grow your hive,” and avoid the sting of failure.


Post Authored by: R. Keith Gordon