Saturday, January 18, 2020

To Bee or not to Bee

We humans and bees (also ants) have lots in common. Both are social and live in complex societies. Communication is very important to us. Division of labour and specialisation exists in both the societies. Risk management is critical to both – more about it at the end.
A colony of bees consists of 20,000-60,000 honey bees and one queen. Worker honey bees are female and do all the work. Larger than the worker bees, the male honey bees (also called drones), have no stinger and produce offspring for the colony.
Life cycle of a worker bee is 5 – 7 weeks and they have defined work as per their age
Week 1 – Clean the honeycomb, feed larvae
Week 2 – Build Honeycomb, receive food from incoming bees
Week 3 – Guard the hive, remove dead bees
Week 4 onwards – get nectar, pollen, water
The busy bee is really busy!!
  • Honey bees must gather nectar from two million flowers and fly about 90,000 miles – three times around the globe – to make one pound of honey.
  • The average bee will make only 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.
  • A honey bee visits 50 to 100 flowers during a collection trip.
  • A honey bee can fly for up to six miles, and as fast as 15 miles per hour.
  • The queen bee can live up to 5 years and is the only bee that lays eggs. She is the busiest in the summer months, when the hive needs to be at its maximum strength, and lays up to 2500 eggs per day.
  • Honey has always been highly regarded as a medicine. It is thought to help with everything from sore throats and digestive disorders to skin problems and hay fever.
  • Honey bees have been producing honey in the same way for 150 million years.
  • The honey bee is the only insect that produces food eaten by man.
  • Honey lasts forever.
  • Bees make honey so that they can eat it in the winter when there are less flowers.

Honey bees use movement, odour cues, and even food exchanges to communicate. After collecting nectar and pollen from many different flowers, bees fly back to their colonies. They regurgitate nectar, mixed with enzymes, and expose the mixture to the air for several days, creating honey. Pollen is mixed with nectar to form a protein-rich substance called beebread. Beebread is primarily used to feed young developing bees, called larvae. Odour cues transmit important information to members of the honey bee colony. When a worker honey bee stings, it produces a pheromone that alerts her fellow workers to the threat. That's why a careless intruder may suffer numerous stings if a honey bee colony is disturbed.

Honey bee workers perform a series of movements, often referred to as the "waggle dance," to inform other workers the location of food sources more than 150 meters from the hive. Scout bees fly from the colony in search of pollen and nectar. If successful in finding good supplies of food, the scouts return to the hive and "dances" on the honeycomb. After performing the waggle dance, the scout bees may share some of the food with the following workers, to communicate the quality of the food supply available at the location.

The honey bee dance was observed and noted by Aristotle as early as 330 BC. Karl von Frisch, a professor of zoology in Munich, Germany, earned the Nobel Prize in 1973 for his ground breaking research on this dance language. His book The Dance Language and Orientation of Bees, published in 1967, presents fifty years of research on honey bee communication.

The scout bees play a very imp role in the diversification of the food sources for the colony. You see, some bees ignore the “waggle dance” and keep going further to find other food sources. The idea is to diversify in a way that there are multiple sources of food for the colony at all times. The trick is in optimisation – enough bees should go to an established source so as to collect most of the available food and some should keep scouting for new sources so that the risk of running out of food is minimal. One can also argue that the most progress that humankind has made has been from people who like these scouts have ignored the conventional wisdom and taken the road less travelled to new discoveries.  
Are we making the best use of our time? Are we optimising our time between the short and long term objectives? Are we in a symbiotic relationship with nature like bees and flowers? Are we making the society better with our individual contributions and working with one another? Perhaps we still have a lot to learn from the bees.
Sources –

Friday, January 3, 2020


“Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sharing a very interesting article that I came across.

It's important to spend time around people. You can improve your habits and learn new things when you're surrounded by interesting people. Of course, much of life's biggest joys stem from our relationships. But too much "people time" might also be a bad thing. Our digital devices often make us feel like we need to be connected 24/7. And all of the noise, activity, and hustle can wear you out (and ironically can leave you feeling lonelier than ever).

Solitude is an essential component to your health and well-being. But, as a therapist, convincing people to spend time alone can be a tough sell. Many people who enter my therapy office are already feeling lonely. And there's evidence that says loneliness is becoming a health epidemic. Being alone and feeling lonely are two completely different things, however. Many people feel lonely even when they're in a crowded room. And some people spend lots of time alone without ever actually feeling lonely.

In fact, building more solitude into your daily life might actually reduce your feelings of loneliness. Solitary skills take practice if you're not used to being alone, but over time, you can grow more comfortable with being by yourself. But shirking loneliness isn't the only reason you should spend more time in solitude. There are many other reasons spending time alone can help you build the mental strength you need to reach your greatest potential.

 1. Solitude helps you get to know yourself.
When you're by yourself, you make choices without outside influences. You can choose how to spend your time without worrying about anyone else's feelings. Making choices on your own will help you develop better insight into who you are as a person.

Being alone will help you grow more comfortable in your skin as well. The more you know yourself, the better equipped you'll be to be your authentic self when others are around.

 2. Alone time could improve your relationships. 
Spending time with friends, family and colleagues contributes to a "we vs. them" mentality. Although unintentional, you'll see people who don't fit into your inner circle as different from you and you'll develop less empathy for them.

Spending time alone breaks down those barriers. Studies show you'll develop more compassion for other people when you set aside time for solitude.

 3. Solitude boosts creativity and productivity.
There's a reason artists, musicians, and authors seek solitude when they want to create something. A private space, whether it's a secluded studio or a cabin in the woods, allows them to be more creative. Studies confirm that being alone often fosters creativity.

In addition to boosting creativity, solitude also skyrockets productivity. Studies consistently show people perform better when they have privacy (which means open floor plans make terrible work environments).

 4. Solitude improves psychological well-being.
Learning how to be comfortable by yourself may take some getting used to. But solitary skills could be help you become mentally stronger.

Studies have found people who set aside time to be alone tend to be happier. They report better life satisfaction and lower levels of stress. They're also less likely to have depression.  

 5. Being alone gives you an opportunity to plan your life.
While it's important to have joint goals with your romantic partner, family members, or business partner, you also need to make sure that you're living your best life as an individual. Be proactive about planning out your life, similar to the way you might plan for retirement or plan a vacation.

Setting aside time to be alone can help you reflect on your goals, dreams, and aspirations. Take a break from the hustle and bustle to think about whether you're living life according to your values and whether you might want to make some changes.

 How to Set Aside Time to Be Alone
You don't need to aside huge chunks of time to be by yourself in order to benefit from solitude. Just 10 minutes of alone time each day could be enough to help you rejuvenate from the daily grind. If you think you don't have time to sit quietly and think, you probably need alone time more than ever. The busier you are, the more likely you are to benefit from some quiet time. Whether you decide to meditate, write in a journal, or take a hike in nature, it's up to you. But, whatever you do, silence your electronics and allow yourself to be alone with your thoughts. You also might schedule an activity to do by yourself once a month. Go to dinner alone, take a long walk by yourself, or engage in an activity that you enjoy.

 If you're not used to solitude, the silence and lack of activity can feel uncomfortable at first. But, setting aside time to be alone is an essential component of building mental strength and living a rich and full life.