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Is there a Queen Bee on Your Nursing Unit?

Nurse Queen Bee Nurse Queen Bee

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Know Your Place in the Bee Hive

What’s that annoying  sound? It’s the Queen Bee buzzing around, and you can always tell when she’s on duty. Warning: Don’t slap! You’ll get stung!


Many workplaces have a Queen Bee in their midst. Nursing is no exception to this form of female work group dysfunction. The Queen Bee position is a semi-legitimate position in the same way that the Busy Body or the Chief Slacker are semi-legitimate positions.

Successful coworker bees avoid getting stung (and can even succeed in their worker bee jobs) once they understand the Rules of the Bee Hive:

  1. There can be only one Queen Bee per hive nursing unit. You can be a worker bee, or you can be a drone, but you can’t be the Queen Bee. If challenged, the Queen Bee will defend her position to the near-death. In the end, either the challenger or the Queen Bee will have to buzz off to find another hive.
  2. Exception to 1.)  [Tweet “There can only be one Night Shift Queen Bee and one Day Shift Queen Bee per nursing unit. “]
  3. Don’t complain to the manager. The Queen Bee has secured favor with the manager. The manager defers to the Queen Bee because the Queen Bee is dominating, experienced, and has marketable skills. The Queen Bee generally has been on the unit for forever plus a year. The manager is intimidated by the Queen Bee and doesn’t want to rock the boat, I mean, poke the hive.
  4. Secret: the Queen Bee doesn’t want to be the legitimate manager. She wants to be the informal manager without all the work and tasks that make managers unpopular, such as disciplining, budget and evaluations.
  5. The Queen Bee makes fairly ordinary guacamole, or some other speciality dish, which she is convinced rivals no other. Said guacamole or other dish shall not ever be put to a challenge at the monthly potluck. Find out what the Queen Bee’s pièce de résistance is. Everyone knows, just ask. And then never make it. Just smile and rave about hers.
  6. The Queen Bee has favorites and bestows favors. She can get vacations approved, supplies delivered up to the floor stat, and has every doctor’s cell phone numbers.
  7. Do not be younger, smarter, or more attractive than the Queen Bee. You will have to work much harder to avoid her ire.
  8. Never overtly challenge the Queen Bee as she has a bevy of loyal worker bees who will swarm in her defense. And sting the heck out of you.
  9. Never, ever let the Queen Bee see you cry! Queen Bees are, after all, bullies at their core, and bullies like nothing more than…seeing you cry.
  10. Most important, do a good job. Keep focusing on your performance. This is how you succeed in the long run. You gain the respect of your coworkers, who really can see the difference between you and the Queen Bee, even though they may allow her to rule. For now.


The Queen Bee craves acknowledgement and recognition. Give her that and she’s a benevolent bee.. a lamb as it were…wait…enough with the insect/animal metaphors. Good luck and don’t get stung.

You might enjoy the finer points of being the Enema Queen.

or Uncensored Thoughts of a Nurse Interviewer

Nursing’s Dirty Little Secret

How to Be a Nurse Practitioner 


Until next time my friend,

Nurse Beth


About Beth Hawkes (146 Articles)
Nice to meet you! I'm a Nursing Professional Development Specialist in acute care, a writer, speaker and career columnist.

3 Comments on Is there a Queen Bee on Your Nursing Unit?

  1. Ha! ha! So true! I’ve been in the same hive with a very aggressive Queen Bee for 8 yrs now. I’ve been stung soo many times in the past and there was always lesson learned. I just shower her with sweetest praise and gush in every word she say. Stay invisible, do good nursing in a quiet way, be humble and stay safe.

  2. Awesome and oh so true…

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