FACT: “A flying bee expends energy at a rate of about 500 watts per kilogram (250 watts per pound), whereas the maximum power output of an Olympic rowing crew is only about 20 watts per kilogram (10 watts per pound). At any moment, however, only a small portion of the clustered bees will be shivering with maximum intensity, so the total heat output by the approximately two kilograms (four pounds) of bees in a winter cluster isn’t 1,000 watts, but is only about 40 watts, a rate of heat production like that of a small incandescent light bulb.”

Honeybee Democracy
by Thomas D. Seeley

Honeybees make decisions collectively—and democratically. Every year, faced with the life-or-death problem of choosing and traveling to a new home, honeybees stake everything on a process that includes collective fact-finding, vigorous debate, and consensus building. In fact, as world-renowned animal behaviorist Thomas Seeley reveals, these incredible insects have much to teach us when it comes to collective wisdom and effective decision making. A remarkable and richly illustrated account of scientific discovery, Honeybee Democracy brings together, for the first time, decades of Seeley’s pioneering research to tell the amazing story of house hunting and democratic debate among the honeybees.

“Dr. Seeley is an engaging guide. His enthusiasm and admiration for honeybees is infectious. His accumulated research seems truly masterly, doing for bees what E.O. Wilson did for ants.”—Katherine Bouton, New York Times

We invite you to read Chapter 1 here:


Also available as part of our Princeton Shorts collection:
The Five Habits of Highly Effective Honeybees (and What We Can Learn from Them)
by Thomas D. Seeley

Studies of animal behavior have often been invoked to help explain and even guide human behavior. Think of Pavlov and his dogs or Goodall and her chimps. But, as these examples indicate, the tendency has been to focus on “higher,” more cognitively developed, and thus, it is thought, more intelligent creatures than mindless, robotic insects. Not so! Learn here how honeybees work together to form a collective intelligence and even how they make decisions democratically. The wizzzzdom of crowds indeed! Here are five habits of effective groups that we can learn from these clever honeybees.