My dad and I are beekeepers. We currently manage four hives, two at our house and two down at my old high school, which we installed in late April 2020. Me, my dad, a student, and a faculty member all took place in the installation, however, neither the student or the faculty member had performed a hive installation. The installation process is quite interesting and gives insight into interesting bee behavior that surprisingly can be related to human behaviors, and specific behaviors exhibited in the Stalin-era Soviet Union. Coincidentally, these bees depicted below are specifically Russian bees, a type of bee that is known for surviving cold weather better.
The bees arrive in a huge package in the mail, containing about five thousand bees, yet only one queen. The queen comes in a separate container in the box, positioned in the left half of the container pictured above. The bees are swarming around the queen to try and get her out of her tiny sealed enclosure, but it is sealed with cork and net, so the bees can still smell her pheromones (depicted below).
The queen needs to be sealed in the tight package because wherever she goes, the bees will follow her pheromones. We replace the cork in the cage with a marshmallow and then place the cage into the hive with all of the bees so that the hive can eat her out of the enclosure. However, since the queen has been stuck in the new hive for two to three days (the time it takes the bees to eat the marshmallow), she has become acclimated to the hive and will stay inside instead of flying away.
I find the behavior of the bees to be quite similar to the behavior of Stalinist Russia, I isolate some specific cases where there is a clear similarity. The first is that while the queen bee is necessary for the hive to function, worker bees are completely expendable. By the summer, worker bees have a lifespan of six weeks before they die, and their only job is to bring in as much nectar as possible to benefit the hive in the winter. I find this quite similar to the expendability of the Russian people during the Soviet era. As people were moved to hive-like cities where apartments became shared and crowded, factory work was the primary goal of urban areas where people would produce items in factory conditions. Second, the queen bee is similar to Stalin because of the nature of his reputation around the working class. In the USSR citizens revered Stalin for expelling the bourgeoisie from Russia and promoting the working class, similar to the status that the queen has in the hive as an almost irreplaceable leading figure that is the key to their survival. Without the queen be the hive could not produce more offspring to survive.
Lastly, when the queen eventually dies, the hive will turn the current larva into queen cells, which will hatch new queens. The first queen to hatch will kill all of the other queen cells in order to stop any potential rivals, and will then lead the hive until death. This is similar to the events that we watched in The Death of Stalin, where top Soviet leaders made power-grabs right after Stalin was found dead. The first leader to arrive would then quash the power of all his rivals, seen when the emergency council charged Beriya and executed him because he was seen as a threat to power.
This is just an isolated scenario where I found lots of similarities, however, bee behaviors can be applied to a lot of different scenarios. The nature of the hive hierarchy can be found everywhere, especially as individuals are often revered and put in control of leading groups of people.