Building a Vibrant Culture Course 101 – Lessons from the Japanese Bee

Greetings to our “Becoming Your Best” listeners, wherever you might be in the world today. This is Steve Shallenberger, your host.

Today, I’d like to talk a little bit about nature. Nature has the ability to teach us many lessons that we can apply in our own personal life, with our teams, our families, our organizations, and also as we seek to exercise great leadership to get great results. The story I’d like to share from nature is a fascinating one. And after I share the story, you may wanna go to YouTube and observe this yourself.

There is something called an Asian hornet. If you stick out the palm of your hand, the Asian hornet is about two-thirds the size of your palm. And, of course, it’s much larger than a bee, which is a small part of your palm. And it’s been demonstrated that 30 hornets can literally destroy an entire hive of 30,000 bees within about two to three hours.

It’s fascinating. So one of the YouTube clips that you can go to watch and see about this, it’s “Hornets killing bees, 30 hornets killing 30,000 bees.” And it’s amazing. They start showing up and they’re much larger, of course, the Asian hornets, and they have these big pinchers on their head, and so they go to work. They just pinch these bees in half, and it’s a slaughter. And pretty soon, they have killed so many of the hive, the bees seem defenseless, and it’s such a slaughter that many of the Asian hornets are exhausted and fall on the ground. Nature is pretty amazing because, then, what the other hornets do, they’ll fly down and actually give them nourishment so they can regain their energy.

At the end of these two or three hours, it’s fascinating because the camera is able to capture all of this with the entire beehive destroyed or, at least, all of the bees are killed. And then the Asian hornet can go in and actually eat the larva bees, the new baby bees that are still in the cells there. And this is how they get nourishment to continue to perpetuate their species. Okay, well, that’s very interesting. And so, you’re probably saying to yourself, “What in the world does this have to do with my life?” And, “what does it have to do with my business?”

Well, it has a lot to do. Because sometimes we feel like we are facing the same very impossible odds that the beehive is facing as they face this giant, the Asian hornet. And you may say to yourself, “I just don’t know how to solve this problem, it is so big, it’s so impossible. How do I solve it?” Well, this is the very heart of this discussion because life sometimes presents some pretty big obstacles, some big challenges and we can feel despair and discouragement, and really not know the answers of how to move forward and defeat this enemy to move ahead.

Well, in comes another lesson from nature. And so, the next YouTube clip is, “How the Asian hornet finds the hive.” And what is done is a scout Asian hornet goes out and goes on the hunt, and is looking for the hive. And when they finally find…when this individual scout finds the hive, it actually slips into the hive, whether it’s a tree trunk or whether it’s a box, whatever it might be. It slips into this hive and starts putting down pheromones so that there’s a tracker set there that the rest of the Asian hornets can find this location and then do their work of death.

Well, here is what happens. Because the bees, somehow, have learned how to defend against this. I don’t know how it came about but there is the ability to think. And so Japanese bees, as the hornet comes in, go about their business, but they’re very aware of the presence of this predator, of this intruder. And so, what happens, just the last moment before the Asian hornet takes off, departs, they can sense this and all the bees start vibrating, they’re back in together, simultaneously. And this is the signal to surround the hornet. And there’s a very interesting thing here because the bee limit of heat, that it can stand and still live, is 118 degrees. The level of heat that an Asian hornet can stand and still live is 115 degrees and then it dies.

And so, just at the right moment, as the hornet starts to leave, this vibrating, the backings, the whole hive knows what they are doing. And 100 bees instantly swarm around this Asian hornet, and they start this vibration all together and it starts raising the heat, and it raises the heat to 117 degrees, and they literally roast and kill the hornet.

Now, how was that for amazing? How was that for solving this seemingly impossible problem? And of course, now, the hornet cannot return, the hive is saved. And so this is the idea, this is the spirit that we need to have as when we’re presented with big problems, we’ve got to come up with the solutions. And that there is hope, and we can save the day. One of the best ways that we know how to accomplish that is, not only the mindset of not giving up, of never giving up. This is the mindset that I will find a way, we are gonna solve the seemingly impossible, and I’m gonna put one step in front of the other. So that is the mindset, and it is a steely, powerful human willpower. That we will move forward, we are gonna find a solution.

So that’s one aspect, but the other aspect is a skill set. And that can be found in the transformation challenge. The transformation challenge is 6 steps that help you think through seemingly overwhelming problems or to develop an opportunity. It’s 6 steps that helps you think of how to get going to solve the problem. And very quickly, and by the way, this is the subject of our new book, “The Transformation Challenge,” that’s coming out here very quickly. And I’m sure it’ll be a roll out for many, many years to come as it helps people with this. We’ve already used this to research for many, many years and seen the power that it has.
But the six steps are: number one, what’s the vision? It’s save the hive, if we’re using the beehive language. Step two, what’s the current reality? Current reality is we have some serious predators in the Asian hornet. Step three, why? Well, they’re bigger, they are more powerful. And how do we defend against them? If they can find us, we are in deep trouble. So, you know, you’ll go through the “Why” to get to the real situation. And what can we do about it? Well, in this case, the bees came up with some options and it was a great solution. Step five is to implement it. Step six is to evaluate how you did.

This seemingly simple process is extremely powerful and can be applied at virtually any level in your life. If you’d like to have a free quick start guide on the transformation challenge, all you have to do is go to and we will send you, free of charge, the transformation challenge six-step worksheet that helps you walk right through these. So, I’m thinking about nature, I’m thinking about life and what we do as becoming your best leaders to take things to a whole another level to get outstanding solutions that last, to take us to good, to better, and better to best, that helps us be among the very best of what we do on our own professions and in our lives. So, this is a great lesson from nature, and I love the metaphor that it is.

We may have some Asian hornets in our life, but let’s figure out a way to defend and save the hive. Well, there you go, never underestimate the power of your influence. It is very significant. I assure you, as you just work on this thing that allows you not only you but everybody that you associate with to get to a better place. You are making a difference. And it’s through this effort, and push, and drive, and desire to lift and improve.

Thank you so much for being with us today. It is so great to associate with you. We feel honored and privileged and wish you the very best. This is Steve Shallenberger with, “Becoming Your Best Global Leadership.” Thank you.


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