It’s bee blogger exchange week! Yesterday, I highlighted 3 Albuquerque beekeepers on the Sunset website and today we have Margaret Sloan from Sunset’s “Team Bee” returning the favor. Margaret blogs about bees for Sunset Magazine’s One-Block Diet. When she’s not tending to Sunset’s 3 hives, she also is a production coordinator, fact checker, and map maker for the magazine.
Sunset Magazine’s One-Block Diet didn’t start out to build a better work team. It started as a project to help our readers learn to produce their own food in whatever space they have available. Like many of our readers, we had to learn from the ground up to do urban-homesteady things such as make cheese, brew beer, and, yes, raise bees.
As it so happened, the One-Block Diet’s beekeeping project did have a team-building effect. Communication flowed more freely between departments as Team Bee members buzzed around, talking bees, honey, and yes, Sunset Magazine.
I wanted to know whether other companies who keep bees were having the same team-building experience that we‘ve had at Sunset. And what company is more trendy and in the news for its apiary than Google and the Hiveplex?
I called Rob Peterson, software engineering manager and one of the many beekeepers at Google in Mountain View, CA, only about 20 miles from us at Sunset. In their park like campus-by-the-bay, 120 employees have signed up to tend 4 beehives, sharing the duties of hive inspections, honey extraction, and general bee stuff.
“It’s been a great way to cross-pollinate within Google,” he said, laughing at his own pun. “It’s allowed us to meet people in other walks at Google that we normally wouldn’t meet.” And Google’s beekeeps aren’t just software engineers; they’re also folks from departments as varied as legal, the restaurant, and the dot.org side of Google.
“It also gives people a chance at leadership roles who wouldn’t normally have a chance. They’re not all managers,” Rob said.
At Sunset, Team Bee did just that.
Most of us on Team Bee are not managers, yet we have been able to prove our skills by managing our hives. And two of us are pretty shy; working with the bees has helped us get over that, because we’ve had to meet people and talk about bees. Kimberley Navabpour, Team Bee captain (we call her the Queen Bee) added, “It’s given our co-workers a talking point, a place to start a conversation with us.”
But probably the best thing that has happened to the members of Team Bee is that we’ve all become friends. And that’s pretty sweet.