- Action Learning-by-doing – You can learn beekeeping from reading a book in much the same way as you can learn to ride a bicycle from reading a book. I've found that learning beekeeping happens almost precisely how the 'sitting by Nellie' approach worked during the industrial revolution. Beekeeping is learned by watching and talking with a beekeeper while they are at work, doing it yourself under guidance, making mistakes, getting stung and learning to tolerate and being OK with the pain, listening to interesting bee stories (there's plenty of them) and then doing it yourself and ultimately teaching others. I think it's been this way ever since people have worked with bees. Using all of yourself in learning – mind, body, soul and story makes for a powerful, lasting experience.
- Homologous Transfer – Homologous Transfer refers to using ideas, principles and theories from a particular field of study and applying them to a completely different area. For example, a particle physicist knowing about brownian motion (the random movement of particles) could effectively apply this principle to management of vehicle traffic flows and resource allocation. In the case of bees and hive organisation, there are many organisational metaphors from the hive that can be easily understood and effectively applied.
- The Hive as Superorganism – While we may see individual bees foraging for nectar, the beekeeper will tend to regard the hive as a single organism – a living bee-ing system – where individual bees with their specialisations work in synch with their environment to sustain themselves and build honey surpluses and churn out more bees, swarms and hives.
Read: COINS - Collaborative Innovation Networks, Swarm Creativity and Cool Farming by Peter Gloor, Research Scientist, MIT Center for Collective Intelligence talks about at I-Open Research.
I-Open Store: COINs-Collaborative Innovation Networks Interview Transcription PDF.
- Work Specialisations – All the bees that do the work of foraging are female. They live for up to 32 days and in their short lives, each bee will have worked at various specialisations ranging from feeding larvae, hive cleaning, air conditioning duty, foraging and, their last role when their stings are nicely matured is defense.
- Hive Mind and Moods – If you spend time observing bees, you'll start to discern distinct mood states and behavioural patterns. These moods range from lazily and happily going about their business, their normal state, to being downright angry. I've found that the hive becomes more aggressive as they build up their honey stash – when the hive is full of honey more resources are allocated to defense duty than to foraging.
Read about Swarm intelligence, the collective behaviour of decentralized, self-organized systems, natural or artificial, and other types of hive mind at Wikipedia here.
- Bee communication – Much like us, bees communicate via a mix of visual, symbolic, chemical/pheromonic, and vibratory signalling. Using these communication methods the hive knows about the environment around it, what resources are available, the quality of the resources and even anticipation of when the resources will be available. It has been found that the queen somehow times the laying of eggs and the emergence of new bees to coincide with resource availability.
- Quorum Sensor – Much like we have a concept of a quorum for meetings in a human organisation, the Quorum Sensor in a hive is the shared real-time awareness of the appropriate bee-mood program to run. This is the “let's go gang” signal that orients the hivemind towards a resource opportunity, a threat, the splitting of a hive in two, swarming etc. The organisation and re-organisation into different modes can be seen immediately if you're standing near the hive. At some level, humans also have quorum sensors, when these activate through stories, memes and behaviour, sudden systemic change can result.
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