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Swarm intelligence at Byron Honey

Byron Bay Honey

What can bees teach us about cooperation? 

They’ve been around for more than 22 million years, maybe in some ways they’re more evolved than us newcomers, modern humans, with only 220,000 years on Earth.

At Byron Honey they want to know how we can translate principles of swarm intelligence (SI) into their work practice. SI concepts are also used in developing artificial intelligence and in the context of cellular robotic systems. In a beehive 50,000 bees live successfully and productively in a self-organising structure. 

At Byron Honey some of the scientific findings on this topic have been transposed into key principles posted on the wall in large letters, and they boil down to such simple things as; Seek Diverse Solutions, or Create groups with mutual respect and shared interests or Love each moment as it arises or Developing emotional intelligence: what would it feel like to walk in the other’s shoes? 

Byron Honey managing director Horst Tietze says that they draw from research by Daniel Goleman on EQ and insights gained in Tibetan Buddhism such as the four immeasurables of compassion, loving kindness, empathic joy and equanimity. 

‘We use the term ‘Byron Honey Hive Intelligence’ to reflect our aspirations. We are encouraging periods of silence by abstaining from small talk to develop mindfulness, yet we encourage singing and laughing during production to build social cohesion. It’s not uncommon at the end of the day for the entire team to fall into a shared dance to the tunes of Xavier Rudd or Black Eyed Peas. Another posting on the wall as guiding principle reads: ‘The most important Hive quality: having fun together the natural way – singing, dancing, laughing’, he says.   

Byron Bay Honey is a registered trademark, the company is fully HACCP approved and one of the oldest raw food businesses in the Shire. ‘What started as a cottage industry on a local back porch has turned into the largest regional honey distribution company’, says Horst. ‘Initially we supplied only health food stores, green grocers and smaller supermarkets. Through sheer grit and determination, we acquired much coveted vendor contracts supplying five DCs for more than 500 Woolworths and IGA supermarkets since 2005.’

‘We see ourselves as an incubator to test assumptions made by swarm intelligence in real life. What will workplaces of the future look like? Ralph Waldo Emerson believed all things are divine and said: ‘All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.’ His spirit resonates with us at Byron Honey and is captured in each jar of honey you purchase at the store. 

‘And on 9 November we’re having a dance party to celebrate our 25th birthday, a proof that hive intelligence is alive and well, and the future has already started in the Shire.’

To attend, register at ‘honey warehouse dance party’ at eventbrite.com.au 


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