Two dwarf Rose of Sharon bushes stand guard on either side of our front porch. Over the past seven years, they have grown at a slant, leaning towards each other as if they’re trying to hold hands like a stooped elderly couple. Once summer gets really good and hot, they put out beautiful, white blossoms with petals as soft as chiffon. It only takes a moment of listening to the buzzing to know I’m not the only one who loves these flowers.
The bees can’t get enough of them. Big, fat bumblebees and smaller, quick honeybees dart in and out of the blossoms all day long. Recently, their busy movements prompted me to sit on the front porch and watch them work. I attempted to see how they harvest nectar and gather pollen but their work was too miniature for my eyes. So I did the next best thing, I googled “honey bees.”
That’s where I learned what these vast armies of tiny insects are capable of. It takes 8-12 worker bees working their whole lives just to make one teaspoon of honey. One-eighth teaspoon of honey (the life’s work for an industrious lady bee) is easily what is left in the curved crevices of the plastic, bear-shaped squeeze bottle before I throw it away.
There are three jobs available for employable honey bees. They can be a queen (a difficult job—she lays around 200,000 eggs every year), a worker (those are the female bees we see flying around), and the drones (the male bees who mostly remain in the hive…where they belong—barefoot and impregnating). Within these three career tracts, there are various sub-specialties. For instance, some chew the honey when it arrives to make it thicker, while others construct the series of waxy containers that make up the honeycomb.
However you look at it, a beehive is a remarkable, natural illustration of teamwork at its best. Every bee has a job and gets the work done. Their most important motivation is the health of the community, and the only way to keep the hive buzzing is for everyone to work together.
I love being a part of a team. I like to collaborate to make a pretty good idea amazing. I like to see what happens when you put a bunch of different people with a variety of skills and experiences together and let them loose. There’s a palpable excitement in the room when a theoretical project starts to materialize into something real.
Whether you’re the boss or a lowly drone, we could all learn a lot from the bees.