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Tax Blog

Replacing the Queen Bee

Recently, I had the fortune (or as some might say, the misfortune, as you will understand in a moment) of visiting the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis. While the experience was entertaining and visually appealing, a couple of thoughts danced across my mind that day as I tip-toed through the tulips.

  1. I am deathly allergic to bees!!!! – Why in the world would my wife of almost 19 years bring me here!!! Not only were the bees pollinating the flowers – but they have actual bee hives set up throughout the gardens. Maybe they should rename it – The Missouri Botanical Gardens and Bee Keeper Tour! I know, I know, I am just a lawyer at heart – but maybe there should be a warning – BRING YOUR EPI PEN if you are allergic to tiny little yellow bees!!!

  2. As my tip toeing turned into the fear of death and I began to dodge and swerve like Steph Curry in an NBA Finals Game, I couldn’t help but wonder, what would happen if the hive lost it’s Queen Bee.

I soon had the answer from, and I couldn’t help but relate the answers I found to the problems that we face in transitioning our businesses to the next generation, like the Queen Bee transitions to her next generation.

Unlike most privately held companies in the U.S., when a Queen Bee begins her transition in life, she starts to produce fewer pheromones. The decline in the pheromone production tells the worker bees to start building larger cells in the hive. These larger cells are then set to produce larger bees which the worker bees then begin feeding special food. This grooming process works well, as the first to hatch then kills the others, and if 2 hatch at the same time, there is a battle to the death. Now I am not suggesting that those family owned businesses out there battle it out in the boardroom, or stab each other in the back on the way to the break room, but it does teach us a very valuable lesson. Proper planning is essential for a Business Succession Plan to work. A bee colony prepares for the retirement of their Queen Bee and usually has several options to work with. We, as business owners, should do the same. It is important to have early and open dialogue so that different ideas and options can be fleshed out and then put down in writing as a formal written succession plan.

We here at The Center specialize in preparing and implementing Succession Plans for privately held Companies all over the United States. If you would like more information on how to start your planning, please contact us at 618-997-3436 or check us out on the web at

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