Honey bees are amazing creatures and caring for them takes the same skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur. I just peeked in on my hives today. A warm front blew through yesterday bringing temperatures of nearly 60 degrees – tomorrow back to freezing. Today is the weather window beekeepers look for in the early spring. It allows you to open the hives, give them a quick look and dish out fondant, an icing-like food to supplement honey left in the hives.

Unfortunately, it’s a crap-shoot to see which hives survive the winter—so many variables—from temperament to temperature.

Maybe due to a severe cold snap two weeks ago, one hive was already gone. Weak hives don’t have enough mass to keep warm. It’s awful cleaning out a dead hive and second-guessing all the steps taken, or not, that could have made a difference.

On the other hand, it was joyful opening up the other hives. My bees buzzed around me like they knew I had something good for them. I chatted at them—an old wives’ tale says that telling the family news to the bees brings good luck. Regardless, we know that calm, slow, steady vibrations settle the bees. So, covering my odds, I calmly and deliberately filled my bees in on the gossip.

Being an entrepreneur feels a bit like beekeeping. Here are a few similarities I’ve found over the years of doing both:

Love the Learning

There’s always something to learn, and opportunities come from every direction. No two hives are alike, just as no two businesses are the same, so look for trends, expect constant change, and always try to improve.

Nurture Good Communication

Every bee in the hive is in tune with all the others, each with clearly defined jobs that change and evolve over time with experience. They are so clear about how the hive will thrive, that all 60,000 produce a single hum in the key of A when they are happy. Check out Bees in the Key of A.

Calm and Deliberate Attention to Detail

It’s so easy to get caught up in the frantic busy-ness of business when you’re an entrepreneur – like it’s a race. It’s not. Every moment is precious, so take a deep breath and don’t go through the day so fast that you miss the fun of it.

Look Out for Opportunities

Every hive has a few scout bees that spend their days flying up to four miles from the hive in search of blooming flowers. When they discover the source, they make a beeline back to the hive and dance for the worker bees. The dance describes the exact location, the significance of the resource, and even the amount of energy it takes to get there. If two scouts describe two different opportunities, the hive decides which one to pursue based on all the facts. We need to choose our scouts wisely and listen to them well. Georgia Tech Department of Computer Science produced a video describing the science behind the bee dance and what it teaches about hive dynamics.

Failures Improve You

Our world is in constant flux, and opportunities come and go. Sometimes you can’t manage every change perfectly. Sometimes you even lose a hive. Try to do your best and when something doesn’t turn out the way you expected, regroup, recalibrate, adjust, and try again.

Maybe your organization could use a little help with this process – let’s talk!