A local hotel recently buzzed with excitement when it hosted a corporate team-building day for bankers in bee suits.

Eight senior executives from Nationwide Building Society HQ in Swindon recently spent the day at Guyer’s House Hotel in Corsham, learning about honey bees and the remarkable similarities between bee hives and corporate life.

The brains behind the idea of using bees as part of a corporate team building day is Richard Rickitt, former managing director of a London based visual effects studio and a television production company. Richard, a qualified beekeeper, now runs A to Bee, providing bee-based team building events.

Mr Rickitt said: “Most people understand that bees are tremendously important to our natural environment, but few realise how important they are commercially. Bees pollinate one third of all the food we eat and if they were a business they would be worth some $200billion a year. What’s more extraordinary is that there are many direct parallels between the way a honey bee colony operates and the way that human-based organisations are managed. Explaining these similarities to our guests helps them to think about the way they organise their own businesses and whether they can learn anything from the bees. After all, the bees have been successfully running their businesses for over 30million years.

“Not everyone wants to look at bees from a business perspective, and some people just want to discover what amazing creatures they are, what they do for the environment, and how honey is made. Either way, after talking to our guests about the bees we get them into suits and open up a hive. Coming face to face with tens-of-thousands of bees and even handling them can produce a lot of nervousness and excitement. It’s an amazing team-bonding experience.”

As well as learning about bees and meeting them face-to-face, teams can even roll up their sleeves and build their own beehives. The finished hives are later stocked with bees and corporate clients then receive regular updates on how well their bees are doing. At the end of the year they even receive jars of honey made by their own bees. Events can be tailored to reflect the work of businesses in different sectors, and companies attending events run by A to Bee can receive ‘Bee Friendly Business’ certification.

Barnaby Davis, Director of Group Retail Strategy at Nationwide, brought some of his top managers for a day away from corporate headquarters and was enthusiastic in his praise for the time spent with A to Bee. “I’ve attended or organized dozens of team-building events over the years, and nothing else has been quite like this. As well as being a really unique and interesting experience getting really close to bees in their hive, actually learning about the cross-over between bees and corporate life in terms of leadership, communication, work ethic and organisational skills was incredibly relevant. My team has been ‘buzzing’ about it ever since!”

A to Bee can visit the workplace, but most events are held at Guyers House hotel in Corsham, a popular location for corporate away days. Guy Hungerford of Guyers House Hotel said: “We are so pleased to welcome the bee hives into our garden and to hear all the fascinating insights that Richard has to tell us about the bees. We’ve hosted hundreds of away days and team building events over the years, but in that time I’ve never seen anything else that has produced so much excitement and enthusiasm amongst our guests.”

“I am confident that our bee-keeping corporate days will generate a lot of interest with our other business clients who are looking for something a bit different and it is also good to think that we are doing a bit of good by helping with pollination in our local environment as well.”

For more information please visit: A-to-bee.co.uk Tel: 01249 715 122