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Forum Post: Economics and the Honeybee

Posted 7 years ago on Jan. 30, 2012, 6:41 p.m. EST by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA
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A beehive has 100 bees. The worker bees produce a total of 100 ounces of honey a year. The workers can not run the hive. The queen bee runs the hive, but can not produce honey. Each bee requires 1/2 ounce of honey a year to survive, so the hive has a surplus of 50 ounces in a year. How should they divide the surplus?

Should the queen receive more honey because she has an ability the others do not, should each bee receive an equal share, or? What is fair in your opinion?



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[-] 3 points by XaiverBuchsIV (508) 7 years ago

Excellent metaphor, though most certinly not what you intended.

Honey is used to feed larva, and as such is for the benefit of the whole colony.

In many respects a honeybee colony is like a single animal. Individual bees and castes are like the cells and tissues of a human body. When one part is threatened, the whole colony reacts.

[-] -3 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 7 years ago

Again, the question is not about bees, but what is fair. What is your answer?

[-] 3 points by nucleus (3291) 7 years ago

Don't be an idiot. "Fair" is determined solely by how much the rich guy decides he is going to pay.

[-] -1 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 7 years ago

The worker bees have no say?

[-] 1 points by nucleus (3291) 7 years ago

If this is not about bees, why do you keep asking about them?

Are you stupid?

[-] 2 points by socialsynergy (32) 7 years ago

Trouble is our hive does not have a surplus - we have a constant deficit.

Deal with what causes the deficits and then you can discuss surplus.

Some folk believe we need constant deficit to drive us (like a whip) or else we would all become lazy and do nothing (funny thing is those that believe this are the laziest of them all - they make their living off of the deficits = other peoples work)

[-] -3 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 7 years ago

This is not a question about the deficit, but what is fair. What is your answer?

[-] 2 points by epa1nter (4650) from Rutherford, NJ 7 years ago

The question can't be answered because the metaphor is flawed. It's as if you are demanding an answer to the question "is the ceiling yellow or blue" when it is really, in fact, white.

[-] -2 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 7 years ago

I state two obvious opinions of what people might say is fair. A third answer might be that the queen gets all the surplus. There are more than three answers. It is up to you to decide. What is fair?

[-] 1 points by epa1nter (4650) from Rutherford, NJ 7 years ago

The floor is wood.

[-] 1 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 7 years ago

In our society the worker bees represent the employees, the queen bee the employers. The honey is the result of their labor. The surplus honey is the profit. Whether you are an employee or an employer, you make the decision what is fair every day. Do you receive a fair share of the profit?

[-] 1 points by hidden (430) from Los Angeles, CA 7 years ago

How about the third option?

The queen receives just enough honey to survive and the rest is shared among the bees because they have the ability to produce produce honey which queen lucks?

Now, the average of these 3 options will give us the answer:

The fair is: The surplus honey should be shared equally.

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 7 years ago

Unlike some humans, bees are not greedy.

I ask if the excess honey is deflationary, or inflationary to the hive?

As of yet there are no accountant bees, so can I have some on my toast?

[-] 1 points by socialsynergy (32) 7 years ago

What is fair?

Freedom to pursue what and who you are meant to be. Freedom to live how you choose. Seems fair to me. But not so simple.

Fair is a very subjective notion - are we talking the division of work, assets, debt, land, business, tax. Fairness in law, religion or education.

So define for me first a starting point. Fairness by itself very vague.

Look at it this way some people want to be very rich; other don't care about this. Is it fair that so many have to work for so few to be wealthy?

Is it fair for someone who is atheist to submit to someones religious beliefs?

Is it fair to be so vague on fairness ? (laugh - joking)

[-] -2 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 7 years ago

Fairness in this example should be simple since you are not biased for the queen or the worker. Isn't a neutral observer the better judge of fairness? So back to the beehive surplus, what is a fair share?

[-] 1 points by socialsynergy (32) 7 years ago

A neutral observer is not possible - unless the observer is not of the hive but then what would such an observer know of the hive and what was fair?

Unless of course the hive is filled with mindless drones - fairness is anything goes.(am i talking of bees or people...hmmmm)

A fair share is what a person needs or feels they must have with consideration for others.

Two people decide on sharing a can of pop. One dispenses the drink between two cups. One cup has a bit more. If the person who dispensed the pop was fair - they would let the other decide which cup to take. If the person who did not dispense the drink was fair; they would take into consideration the needs of the other before making that decision.

Sadly in the world right now fairness is not part of life. it should be but its not. Many of our structures are not designed to be fair and we are not bees.

I wonder if we spoke bee if we would hear bitching and complaints of fairness?(laugh)

Perhaps a better question about what is "fair" and answer would be "happiness". If one person can be happy with what is viewed as less and another is happy with more and we respect one another for that choice - perhaps that is fair.

Fairness by way of happiness.