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  • Writer's pictureDel Chatterson

Learn from the bees

Killer bees or worker bees?


I recently saw the action-packed movie, The Beekeeper, which claims to follow the social behavior of bees whose practice is to kill any bee who disrupts the social system and the productive functioning of the hive. After eliminating the wrongdoer, they then proceed up the genetic chain to kill the parent of the evil bee, even the queen bee, if necessary.


Spoiler alert!

In the movie the criminal mastermind scamming vulnerable citizens and exploiting his wealth and access to power turns out to be the son of the U.S. President, so the renegade lethal assassin targets them both and wreaks havoc on everyone who gets in his way. (Based on current U.S. political intrigue? Maybe.) 


However, I doubt that the behaviour of killer bees is good practice for entrepreneurs to follow for success in their business. Unless you’re licensed to kill and a master of martial arts and deadly weapons, we should probably leave the elimination of evil-doers to the regulators and law enforcement officers.


Another theory of economics and social impact based on bee behaviour (never mentioned in my Economics 101 class) is called, The Parable of the Bees. In a satirical poem by Bernard Mandeville in 1732, he explains how a colony of corrupt and greedy bees enjoyed a flourishing economy until divine intervention suddenly made them all virtuous and honest, then the economy declined and everyone lost their wealth and happiness. Mandeville’s conclusion was that vice and corruption are necessary for economic well-being and that private vice is good for society. I’m sure no modern economist would ever state that conclusion out loud.


However, The Parable of the Bees apparently influenced Adam Smith’s concept of the “invisible hand,” described in his classic, The Wealth of Nations. In promoting the advantages of capitalism and free markets, Smith explains how individual self-interest can lead to collective prosperity. He concludes that the entrepreneur does more public good when dedicated to advancing his business and profiting from meeting the needs of consumers than when the business tries to address the needs of society for social justice and public services.

More modern economists and conservative politicians are willing to support those concepts out loud.


Fortunately, the ideas for economic policy and business management deduced from the behaviour of killer bees and worker bees and interpreted by the poets and philosophers of the eighteenth century have sufficiently evolved for application to the modern world of business and economics.


For enlightened entrepreneurs, we can confidently conclude that managing a balanced approach to both social and business issues can lead to business success without the vices of ruthless, irresponsible, and greedy behaviour and that good management requires consistent respect for our responsibilities to our communities, society and the planet.


Be better. Do Better. Be an Enlightened Entrepreneur.


Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

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