The Beehive as a Business Organization Structure

Successful business organizations tend to thrive in a structured environment, whether this is a formal or informal arrangement. Every growing organization involves departments, various people, and varying levels of intelligence depending on the nature of the industry and work. From a fully functioning factory, to the CEO and her executives at a firm, there is a definite web and network within. In a ‘perfect’ business organization, growth, increases in strength, and success are a result of an open structure that holds each area accountable, works as a natural checks and balances system, and encourages further growth. Although this perfect organization may not exist in the real world, there is an example in nature that shows us a fully-functioning, productive power system on a large scale: the beehive.

The beehive is the epitome of efficiency; carefully crafted and constructed in a well-designed honeycomb pattern, it has astounded and enchanted the minds of mathematicians, biologists, and hobbyists for centuries. A close look at the workings of a bee colony, and the goal of preserving the colony and producing honey, gives us a fantastic analogy for today’s industrious organization. An organizational chart is a human-made, power distribution based on talents, resources, and goals of an organization. In many ways, the beehive organizational ‘chart’ may shadow this type of thinking.

The most important task of the worker bees is to create beeswax to build and preserve the honeycomb. The queen bee determines how much will be needed, and ensures that all of her attendants are aware of the standards that then direct the actions of each bee. Every single bee has a purpose, and is responsible for producing their allotted amount of honeycomb. The project begins with cell cleaning, and each worker bee is given the task of cleaning a specific portion of the colony. The queen determines if this is up to the level she feels appropriate, until the project is complete.

Nursing the younger bees to maturity is the next stage, as the worker bees that are breeding are fed, and ‘raised’ to quickly become worker bees.

Building the colony cells comes next, and nectar and pollen must be extracted, stored, and used to build the comb. The queen bee oversees all wax production, and pollen packing is required to ensure that the pollen will not spoil while in storage.

After the queen lays the eggs, these are carefully sealed and moved to the queen cells by the worker bees. Honey is also sealed for later use.

Queen attendants are appointed to feed the queen and maintain her area of the colony. Guard bees prevent attackers and invaders from destroying or imposing upon the colony; they may take flights to enemies too close to the entrance, bring in food, and inspect various incoming and outgoing material.

Water is available to the bees in a separate crop, usually close to the hive. This helps in the case of overheating, and general bee welfare of water needs.

Considering the many factors that are involved in creating the beehive, we can draw the analogy of creating a business organization in much the same way. The queen bee may be the leading executive of a department, or most likely the CEO. A General Manager, Director, or key Executive may also play this role, as it requires significant leadership strength and direction, but also the ability to generate incumbents (i.e. worker bees). Whatever title this role becomes, it is only under its exclusive direction and influence that work can occur and continue.

Each worker bee (employee/laborer) is given a specific set of tasks, roles, and needs to be flexible as the colony progresses (organizational growth/change leading to flexible roles and job description adjustments). Once a task is complete (project is complete), the worker bee may move onto the next phase and learn and work through new responsibilities (growth and skill-level through experiential learning). The categories of each role within the colony (departments) play a crucial role in the total affairs (the organization). The mission of building the colony (increases capital, resources, or money) is the essential goal of the entire colony (organization).

With the right level of leadership, control, and direction the queen bee will thrive with adequate attendance from her bee attendants (those who report to the executive directly bring feedback and resources for further growth). Ensuring the safety of the colony to outside enemies (competitors) is also a goal, and the taskforce of guards (company CFOs, key decision-makers, policy measures) will ensure that this is possible. Water is necessary to keep things moving and preventing the colony from falling apart (education, key resources). Once the colony is complete, and the workers have disseminated (conclusion of project or department-building), they move onto another colony (department, project, or subsidiary organization) to continue the process.

It is interesting to draw an analogy of the growing workplace organization with that of the beehive, as it provides us with a framework for understanding the efficient distribution of power. Without a core infrastructure in place, many organizations face catastrophes without adequate planning and thinking processes. This makes them limited in ability to adapt to changes, both internal and external, as they have not honed in on their key resources. Alternatively, they may simply work in a fear-driven mentality that ultimately leaves the worker bees incapable of growing, thriving, and proceeding to meet the goals of the organization. The beehive has such an essential, core focus and mission, that nothing occurs without the master plan.

The beehive system works fantastically in nature, and gives us the ability to draw some of the strongest traits and characteristics that just may work for a well-designed business labor organization in today’s competitive business world.

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