Making Honey

by Dick Heinen on November 27, 2010

If you’re like most people, you probably avoid bees. Not me. One of my sons is an apiarist—a beekeeper. During my vacation last summer, I gave him a hand extracting honey from the 1,000 or so hives he maintains.

Beekeeping is very rewarding. It was amazing to see all that rich, sweet honey flow from the frames—all 135,000 pounds of it.

But the really interesting part is what goes on inside the hives. Bees work in a structured community with a very focused goal on making honey. Every bee in the hive has its job to do.

As I worked with the bees, it struck me that beehives and workplace communities are quite similar. Like a beehive, a good workplace is made up of a variety of workers performing a number of interwoven tasks to achieve the desired result. But while bees instinctively know what to do, workers need training to develop the necessary skills to do the job right and to do it safely. To help members succeed, CLAC has built training centres and developed extensive training programs in a number of provinces.

Like beehives, our work communities are not without their share of challenges. The meltdown in the financial sector in October 2008 is a reminder of how susceptible our jobs are to changes in market conditions, where a drop in the price of coal, oil, copper, or any of a number of commodities can wreak havoc in the lives of thousands of people almost overnight.

Watching the bees do their thing this summer, I know that making honey isn’t easy. It takes a strong work community to produce such a sweet reward.

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