One of the most beautiful opportunities that Durant offers is that it is what the astrophysicists (who are looking for earth-like planets in the universe) call a “Goldilocks” size. Durant is just the right size to be able to work with the whole city system in the room – not too big and not too small – just right to see the whole system in action.

One way that Integral City views the human system at the scale of the city is to think about it as a human hive – like the beehive is for the honey bee.

Let me pause and tell you a little bit about the honey bee so that we can borrow some of its incredible intelligence for our use.

An image of wholeness like the bee hive helps us imagine the city as a whole – without getting lost in the enormous scale and complexity of the city.

Apis mellifera – the honey bee has figured out a system that enables Placecaring behavior that enables the functioning of the hive – and also Placemaking behaviours that enables renewable resources for the entire eco-region of the hive.

Bee hives use 4 internal roles that enable sustainability. The Forager-Producers and Diversity Generators locate and gather pollen and nectar as raw materials for making honey. Resource Allocators and Inner Judges (or Integrators) work like a hive intelligence to determine if the hive will meet its annual production targets (about 20 kg of honey per year) and adapt to environmental changes.

Bees have sophisticated ways of communicating – with their waggle dance to indicate flower sources. They also use performance rewards to encourage productive behavior and measure pheromones to learn when they should change behaviors. (FYI forager bees are cut off from their rewards when they don’t perform, and this causes them to become depressed – a condition researchers can measure through pheromones. This drop in their “happiness indicator” causes a shift in their foraging behaviours to find new productive energy sources). So, by these means of setting targets, making course corrections and rewarding productive behavior honey bees create a double sustainability loop that directly contributes to Placecaring survival for the hive and Placemaking resilience for the eco-region.

(Incidentally, the bees utilize a fifth external role that contributes to resilience. It is called inter-group competition – and it comes from other bees competing for resources in the same territory, setting up the conditions for continuous improvement.)

The intelligence of the beehive – evolved over 100 million years is constantly being developed. It is expected that even the fateful and dangerous Colony Collapse Disorder will eventually be solved by the bees themselves who respond to both internal and external indicators in their habitat – and have in the past already solved CCD multiple times.

When I am discerning the lessons of the beehive I am particularly struck by the similarities between the 4 roles of the beehive and the 4 Voices of the human hive (or Integral City).

This is how I see the connections between the roles in the bee and human systems:

  1. Forager Producers are Citizens
  2. Diversity Generators are Business
  3. Resource Allocators are Civic Managers
  4. Inner Judges (Integrators) are Civil Society

When you are looking at your city, the next time, consider it as the Human Hive and ask yourself, What roles do you play most often?