Division of Labour in the Colony

  • Karl von Frisch


We have already mentioned in passing that there exists a strict division of labour among the workers of a bee colony: some of them tend the brood while others see to the cleanliness of the hive; others again build the combs, defend the hive, or collect either honey or pollen. One is tempted to draw a comparison between these conditions and those prevailing in human society; we feel compelled to think of a human community with its teachers and policemen, street-sweepers and carpenters, bakers and confectioners. But the analogy remains only superficial. There exists an essential difference between man and bee in regard to the mode of division of labour. With us, when someone has decided on a career he generally keeps to it to the end of his life. Worker-bees, on the other hand, change their activities with increasing age, according to a fixed plan, as long as conditions in the hive remain normal. During their lives they pass through one after another of all the various professions which have been laid down for them in the bee community—each bee starting her career as a cleaner and ending it as a forager.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 1954

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karl von Frisch
    • 1
  1. 1.MunichGermany

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