The Secret Life of Bees

This article in  Smithsonian Magazine is not about the novel but is a nice clear exposition of a simple experiment designed to expose the process by which a swarm "decides" on where to locate its next hive.

Human democracy is a wonderful thing but it will never match the efficiency of bees. The bees (and neurons) are very closely related and so all have the same internal algorithm for relating strength and persistence of expression to the value of the proposition being expressed - and also, since none of the workers are fertile, there is no possible competitive advantage to having ones own "idea" chosen. But perhaps there is a useful lesson for us. If we want to minimize head-butting then we should strive for a highly egalitarian society with minimal fertility for decision makers.

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