Contact theSOPAbout theSOPSupport theSOPWritersEditorsManaging Editors
theSOP logo
Published:May 16th, 2011 15:51 EST
Dancing Honey Bees Have Great Team Collaboration

Dancing Honey Bees Have Great Team Collaboration

By Ron G Anselm

Have you ever been assigned to a project management team at your job? Most of the time or at least in my case you get on that team and you find that your team mates have trouble communicating and collaborating effectively with each other.

The one key element to successful teams is great collaboration and communication with lots of diverse members on it.

To create good teams maybe organizations should look to a little science to find the answer. The insect that organizations and people can learn from to perfect their team collaboration is the honeybee. Honeybees are really smart little insects.

When honeybees decide to find a new home they don`t just have one member of their group in this case they colony go out and just pick the spot for other bees to follow, they all come to an agreement without the unnecessary arguing or inner team fighting.

The honeybees choose and make the decision for the new home through a democratic process. As in most cases where there are a lot of little bees in the family; the nest or colony becomes overpopulated.

Instead of just expanding their home right where they currently live or just come to terms with stepping on and over each other in the colony, two-thirds of the workers bee and the queen bee leave out the front door and gather on one of the nearby branches.

Over the next few days the scout bees take a trip to find the new home. They seek out around ten to twenty new home site of their potential new and future home. Meanwhile, while the other little bees are waiting for the good news of where they might be living, the new site get announced to the other bees with a dance.

The little scout bee put on a show to the other bees by dancing. The dance is connected to the new site and how good the new site is measured in how long the little scout bees dance lasts. The scout bees have a built in ability to judge how good the site it, I guess you could understand this if you knew bee language and if the site is not that good the scout bee won`t put much effort in the communication dance. Sort of like going to a bar on Karaoke night and watching someone trying to sing while they are stumbling all around the stage ten sheets to the wind drunk.

If the scout bee puts on a good dance then the rest of the other scout bees go and inspect the potential site and come back and do a little dance of their own to show if they approve of the new site or not. The final decision comes when the critical number of bees that visit the site reaches its highest number.

To me from the human side, this sounds sort of like brainstorming. Brainstorming is when a group throws out as many ideas on the table as possible when coming to the decision-making process. Each idea is then looked at and the ideas that are not as good as the other ideas are eliminated form the pool of ideas until the group comes down to and agrees on one idea and that final one make the groups decision.

Thomas Seeley who has been studying Honeybees and is a professor of neurobiology and behavior stated, The bee`s decision-making process is similar to how neurons work to make decisions in primate brains. In both swarms and brains, no individual bee or neuron has an overview, but with many independent individuals providing different pieces of information the group achieves optimal decision-making. " (, 2011)

This is also how brainstorming works in a group. The more people in the group that throw out individual ideas the more chance there is to find the right decision. So, the motto of decision-making through group collaboration and communication is to involve every individual in the group and then come to a democratic decision-making process where everyone in the group agrees with the final decision.

                                                                      Reference, Science News, Dancing Honeybees Use Democratic Process When Selecting a

New home, ( Retrieved 2011.