Team-Building Through Beekeeping at Sunset Magazine and Google

16 Jun

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?

Members of the Google beekeeping team

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.

Aside from beekeeping, Team Bee is also known throughout Sunset for their fine performances at the annual holiday gathering.

“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 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.


4 Responses to “Team-Building Through Beekeeping at Sunset Magazine and Google”

  1. Jocelyn Miller June 16, 2011 at 7:03 pm #

    Wow, I’m the legal beekeeper at Google! How nice to read about my hives on one of my favorite blogs 🙂

    I hope your ladies are as happy as mine.



    • mistress beek June 17, 2011 at 1:10 am #

      Hello Jocelyn, great to hear from one of my usually anonymous readers! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      We’re having a serious drought in New Mexico but thanks to our well-watered urban flora, the girls are finding forage. However, the smoke cloud hanging over Albuquerque from Arizona’s Wallow Fire is possibly confusing them a bit as their behavior is a little unusual ;-(

      Have you harvested yet this year?

  2. Jessica Vaughan June 17, 2011 at 3:14 pm #

    I’m with Jocelyn – being a fan of your blog and then seeing our hives pop up on your posts was pretty awesome.

    It’s been such a great experience beekeeping at Google and was the best way to get myself ready for the hive I installed this year at my house. Though I must say – our hives at work are (unsurprisingly) total overachievers.


  1. Beekeeping at Mistress Beek – Westphoria | A blog by Sunset - May 11, 2012

    […] Albuquerque. Chantal blogged about Albuquerque beekeeps for the One Block Diet, and I blogged about beekeeping and team building at Mistress Beek, where you can see a secret Sunset photo of Team Bee-oncy in all our holiday […]

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