A Workbee is a type of workpod, a small utility craft which is used throughout the Federation. The name, sometimes split into two words, Work Bee, is derived from the craft's small size and the distinctive yellow colour which most 'bees were painted. They are are also referred to as cargo management units.
Workbees entered service in 2268 and many were assigned to the Starfleet shipyards orbiting Earth, including the San Francisco Fleet Yards, and to starships such as the Constitution-class. (TOS movie: Star Trek: The Motion Picture; TNG movie: Star Trek Generations; TOS reference: Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise; DS9 reference: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual)
In the early 2270s (7 March 2215 (SFC)), Patterson-Massey Corporation were tasked with designing and constructing a grabber sled attachment. Commodore Andrew Probert came up with the initial design which was executed by Urco Galen, the project engineer at Patterson-Massey Corp.
Cargo train attachments were also in use at this time. The expandable attachment allowed the Workbee to ferry several pairs of standard cargo containers to and from starships and starbases.
By the late-24th century, Work Bees were still in use, assigned to Federation starships and starbases as part of their complement of auxiliary vessels. (ST reference: USS Enterprise Owners' Workshop Manual; DS9 reference: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual)
In 2376 and 2377, Federation construction ships carried workbees in their large cargo section. With sufficient resources, these workbees could construct various space stations. By then, the Klingon Empire and other powers had their own workbee counterparts. (ST video games: Armada, Armada II)
Workbees remained in service into the 25th century. They formed part of the standard shuttlebay hangar complement of Starfleet starships in the 2400s decade. (STO - Tutorial mission: "Graduation Day")
In 2409, star cruisers of the Odyssey-class with a specialization in the engineering division could deploy workbees during combat to repair the ship ad-hoc. (STO - Klingon War mission: "Welcome to Earth Spacedock")
Deep Space 9
DS9 II construction site
In 2270, when the Constitution-class Enterprise returned from her first five-year mission under Captain James T. Kirk, workbee 73 was one of at least eight 'bees operating in and around the drydock Enterprise was assigned to. (Ships of the Line 2012)
Enterprise 1701 refit
Workbee 603 was one of at least fifteen 'bees assigned to the early stages of the Enterprise refit. It was also one of the few not to be colored yellow, instead being a metallic grey. (Ships of the Line 2006)
Workbee 6 was flown by Captain James T. Kirk during a rescue mission in early 2286 as part of a sizeable contingent launched from the new USS Enterprise-A to repair a flotilla of damaged and stranded Klingon refugee freighters located in the Briar Patch region. (ST - Prey novel: Hell's Heart)
The standard Workbee cab measured 4.11 by 1.92 by 1.90 meters, and massed 1.68 metric tonnes. It was operable by a single crewperson and could be used in pressurised or unpressurised states. (TOS reference: Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise; DS9 reference: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual)
The Alpha-class Model IV workbee was 2.7 meters long, 1.3 meters wide, and 1.2 meters tall. Its particle-beam generator provided power for maneuvering reaction-control thrusters. (TOS reference: The Motion Picture Blueprints)
- The ST reference: Starship Spotter gives dimensions of 1.2m x 1.3m x 1.2m with a displacement of 2.23 metric tonnes.
During the late-23rd century, the Workbee could provide 12 hours of full life support for its operator, although there was no artificial gravity. Two M-1020 particle beam reaction control thrusters provided the main propulsion, with small chemical fuelled thrusters for additional forward propulsion when required. Reaction control was provided by 32 pulsed laser thrusters. Running lights were positioned on the port and starboard sides, and a navigation beacon on the dorsal surface. A large shuttered headlight provided illumination for EVA operations. (TOS reference: Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise; ST reference: Starship Spotter)
By the late 24th century, life support systems had been upgraded to provide for up to 15 hours of breathable gases, drinking water and cooling. Power was supplied by fuel cells and microfusion EPS which was rated for 76.4 hours. Artificial gravity was optional, although most operators preferred a null-g environment while working around large structures to minimize disorientation. 25 discrete communication channels were available for coordination of Workbee tasks. An optional astrionics package monitored the pilot's health and vital signs. If values outside of the normal range were detected, the distress beacon would activate and the Workbee would autopilot back to its docking bay. (DS9 reference: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual)
Various attachments were available for Workbees to increase the variety of roles and assignments they could undertake.
In the 2270s, a grabber sled was introduced to facilitate deep space damage repair and standard external starship maintenance amongst other tasks. The sled was constructed by the Patterson-Massey Corp and came in two versions: one with forward-facing manipulator arms and ventral grabber arms; the other without the ventral grabbers. The grabber sled was still in use in the 24th century, but sometimes called a grappler sled, the arms of which folded underneath the cockpit when not in use. (TOS reference: Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise; ST reference: USS Enterprise Owners' Workshop Manual)
The cargo train attachment was capable of expanding, enabling the Workbee to transfer one or more pairs of cargo containers. This attachment could also be used for passenger modules. The frame was equipped with RCS thrusters for added maneuverability. (DS9 reference: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual; ST reference: Starship Spotter)