Is this the end of the working bee?


I’m not referring to the actual worker bee. That is, the female bees who do most of the work in the hive, day in and day out; they work as a team performing specific jobs and duties in the pursuit of producing honey.

However, I’m sure the term working bee, which is widely used in New Zealand, derives from the worker bee because, instead of bees, it’s people who work together in a coordinated fashion to achieve a common goal. Working bees are typically organised by volunteers in the community to help local clubs, kindergartens and schools maintain and improve their property, grounds and equipment.

I have fond memories of attending working bees with my parents when I was a child. Mum and Dad would spend a weekend each term at my kindergarten, Constance Colegrove, and then my primary school, Vicky Avenue, painting murals on the driveway, erecting fences, scrubbing swimming pools and tending to the gardens. The kids had lots of fun as it was an opportunity to spend more time playing with our friends while our parents worked – hard!

As my mother recollects, it was always the same parents who volunteered; a bit like the female worker bees, I suppose:

“You’d see the same faces turning up each time bringing homemade scones or sandwiches to share for a lunch break. But they’re not as fashionable these days as more often than not both parents work, especially in the cities, and we don’t seem to have as much time on our hands to donate to such hands-on activities.”

Consequently, the community chores that were once performed by working bees are now performed by paid professionals, and the money is usually raised by increased annual subscriptions or fundraising events.

Question: So, is this the end of the working bee as we know it?

Answer: Perhaps … in New Zealand. But this is only the beginning for Working Bee Productions. It’s our objective to work together with marketing-led organisations and advertising agencies in a coordinated fashion to achieve a desired goal.

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