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Work Bee

SpecsImagesInternals
Size Comp 1Size comp 2Size comp 3
Universe : Prime Timeline
Affiliation : Federation
Class Name : Work Bee
Type : Repair pod
Unit Run : 20,436 built in total. 5,139 have been lost in all. 2,112 have been retired from service.
Commissioned : 22681 - present
Dimensions : Length : 2.7 m2
Beam : 1.2 m2
Height : 2.7 m2
Decks : 1
Mass : 1.68 metric tons
Crew : 12
Armament : No weapons carried2
Defence Systems : Light Duranium / Tritanium Single hull.
Low level Structural Integrity Field
Impulse only : Max Impulse Speed : 0.01 x c
Atmospheric Cruise (Mach) : 2
Atmospheric Max (Mach) : 5
Strength Indices :
(Galaxy class = 1,000)
Beam Firepower : -
Torpedo Firepower : -
Weapon Range and Accuracy : -
Shield Strength : -
Hull Armour : 3.13
Speed : -
Combat Manoeuvrability : 24,070
Overall Strength Index : 29
Diplomatic Capability : None
Expected Hull Life : 25
Refit Cycle : Minor : 1 year
Standard : 1 years
Major : 0 years

Notes

One of the most useful and long lasting designs in Starfleet history, the work bee was first fielded in the late 2260's in order to replace several previous craft of similar type. A major feature of the work bee is the highly modular nature of the design. A central cockpit module has space for a single operator. This cockpit can be connected to a variety of sleds or other attachments. The bee does not have an artificial gravity system, with many crewmembers reporting that they prefer this zero gee working environment. The cockpit module can be used with the door removed, the operator wearing a pressure suit.3 The modularity made the initial work bee design somewhat more complex and difficult to produce, but Starfleet was betting that it would prove its worth in the long run - and so it has proved. The work bee is simplicity itself to maintain; minor parts can be swapped out literally in seconds, while major systems such as the micro-fusion power core can be replaced in under ten minutes, and even the hull itself can be broken up into four sections. This has given these bees one of the highest servicability ratings in Starfleet history, with an average availability of 99.97%.

The modular approach has also made the work bee extremely easy to upgrade - all updated systems have been designed to fit the same physical requirements, so it is literally a matter of pulling an old component out and putting the improved one in place. No component swap requires more than three persons, and typically the total maintanence work required by the bees is so low that a three person crew can perform all routine maintanence on a group of fifteen bees.

The upgrade program for the work bees has been generally limited to gradual imporvements rather than large leaps. Over their hundred year history virtually every part of the bees have been replaced many times over. The original design had a duotronic flight computer, an electro-optical passive scanner, and a hull constructed of carbon fibre plated with foamed aluminium alloys - a very old material which nevertheless met the strength and and density requirements. Today the bees exist in many variations according to how modern their equipment fit is; a typical work bee of the 2370's will have a small isolinear flight computer, a short range navigational laser radar, and a shell comprised of monotanium laminated with carbon tetride. The life support systems have been replaced several times as older systems reach the end of their operational life, or as newer safety standards come into force. Some have compared this rolling refit program to the proverbial thirty year old axe which has had four new heads and six new handles!

The work bee can carry out a multitude of tasks; there are two manipulator waldoes4 which can be tipped with a wide variety of tools for all kinds of construction and maintanence work on Starships and space stations. At the rear of the hull are standardized grapple points which can be used to attach various configurations of cargo containers,4 or alternately can be fitted with a tractor beam unit which can be used to tow small craft such as shuttles - a task the work bee would normally undertake only in emergencies. Some thought was given to designing drop tanks with extra fuel and life support supplies to extend the range of the bee severalfold, but although this was perfectly feasible there was never any real need for such an improvement and it was abandoned before serious development work was authorized.

Some thought has been given lately to replacing the work bee with a totally new design. However, with the start of the Dominion war Starfleet is engaged on shipbuilding on a massive scale. It is the measure of this remarkable little craft that, faced with such a huge demand for space-based construction work, Starfleet at once cancelled all development of a replacement and boosted production of the standard work bee instead. Given this level of confidence, it seems that the work bee may well be in service another century hence.

Colour key

Canon source Backstage source Novel source DITL speculation

References

# Series Season Source Comment
1
2 Production Drawings
3 Generic official information
4 Star Trek : The Motion Picture
Source : Production Drawings
Source : Generic official information
Film: Star Trek : The Motion Picture

Comments

First seen in Star Trek : The Motion Picture buzzing around the refitted Enterprise, the work pod is also now featured on the opening credits of Deep Space Nine and mentioned in the DS9 technical manual. The DS9 TM claims a length of 4.11 metres, but this is rather longer than the pod has appeared to be in reality. We can - just - see people inside them on occasion, and photographs are available online which show the model up close with a man inside. If the Bee is anything close to 4 metres tall then that person would need to be three or even four metres tall! The clincher is the original production drawings done for TMP, which have specifications on them along with some background details; it is from these that much of the above article is drawn.
© Graham & Ian Kennedy Page views : 40,208 Last updated : 9 Apr 2020