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Memory Alpha

For the alternate reality counterpart, please see Workbee (alternate reality).

The workbee, also known as a cargo management unit or extricator, was a small utility spacecraft utilized by the Federation from the late 23rd and 24th centuries. It was an apparent successor to the worker bee from the 2250s.

Service history[]

Workbee aft

A workbee with arms working on the Enterprise

Workbees were introduced by the 2270s, and were often assigned to Starfleet shipyards, include those found in orbit of Earth. They assisted in the refitting of the original USS Enterprise at the San Francisco Fleet Yards as well as the launch of the USS Enterprise-B. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture; Star Trek Generations)

Work bee DS9

A workbee outside Deep Space 9

They continued to be used late into the 24th century, where they were found stationed at Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards and Deep Space 9. (VOY: "Relativity") Those assigned to DS9 were generally gray in color. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season 4 credits)

Workbee, Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards

A workbee at Utopia Planitia in 2371

In 2364, the USS Enterprise-D acquired an extricator from Starfleet Operational Support Services on Relva VII in order to eliminate three older and bulkier machines from the cargo bays. (TNG: "Coming of Age")

Workbees were assigned to various other starships during the 2370s and 2380s, including the USS Enterprise-E, the USS Equinox, and USS Protostar.

By 2379, new silver craft resembling workbees were in use at the spacedock where the Enterprise-E was repaired following the Battle in the Bassen Rift. (Star Trek Nemesis)

Technical data[]

Cargo management unit

A cargo management unit (aft view)

The workbee was a single-occupant vehicle with seating for the pilot only. Generally, the pilot needed to be spacesuited, especially if the pilot was planning to perform a space walk. The front of the workbee featured several large windows. The craft also had a large headlight at its extreme forward end for illuminating a work area.

As the workbee was primarily a maintenance craft, it could be equipped with a variety of tools, including a set of dual remote manipulator arms called the Grabber Sled. The workbee could also serve as a tug for cargo modules with the cargo-train attachment. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

The workbee could operate both in the vacuum of space and within the atmospheric and gravitational conditions of a starship cargo bay or planetary surface. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

List of workbees[]


See also[]


Background information[]

Following the design's first appearance in The Motion Picture, the moniker "Work Bee" was adopted by many publications, official and unofficial, including the reference work Star Trek: The Motion Picture Blueprints, co-created by Andrew Probert and David A. Kimble. The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual (1st ed., p. 150) contains a detailed description and technical specifications for the craft. The name itself would not be "canonized" until the name appeared on a display graphic appearing in the Star Trek: Prodigy episode "Starstruck", previously Star Trek: Discovery had otherwise adopted the similarly named "worker bee" nomenclature for similar craft.

According to the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Coming of Age" this vehicle was identified in an okudagram as a "cargo management unit", and in dialogue (while referencing the okudagram) as an "extricator".

The workbee was designed by Probert for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. He later remarked, "The work bee turned out just fine." [1] The studio model of the workbee was filmed in the summer of 1978, on one of Douglas Trumbull's stages at Future General Corporation. (The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, p. 206)

Despite being proud of the workbee's design, Probert also felt that, in The Motion Picture, not enough articulation was shown in the craft. For instance, he believed that "it would have been fun" to see the workbees enter a garage area that was included in the film's drydock. "There were supposed to have been numerous Bees, doing whatever tasks with their manipulator arms, or towing things, or whatever, and they didn't show enough of that," Probert commented. "And […] I would have liked to have seen them drifting, or moving, or gliding/crabbing sideways through space, or rotating. They do have one that kind of rolls… but there should have been a lot more of that." [2] An unused design for the Enterprise cargo/shuttlebay showed several docking ports where workbees could attach to the ship, which were described in Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise. [page number?edit]

The workbee was additionally seen in footage recycled in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and during the Enterprise-B launch in Star Trek Generations. The craft was physically brought to the 24th century when it was included in a montage of different scenes during the main titles of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, beginning with that series' fourth season. These scenes were also used for external shots of the station in various episodes. A computer-generated model was also created, and seen at Utopia Planitia during the flashbacks to the USS Voyager's launch during "Relativity".

Probert designed a follow-up craft to the workbee, dubbed the Sphinx Workpod, during the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Although it was never built as a miniature or explicitly seen, it may have been included in the matte painting of Starbase 74 in "11001001". The new workpod was also featured in the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual and Star Trek: Starship Creator.

Other similar craft to the workbee include the Arkaria shuttle seen in "Starship Mine" and the aforementioned Star Trek Nemesis vehicles.


In Star Trek: The Experience's Borg Invasion 4D exhibit, Sphinx Workpods can clearly be seen repairing Copernicus Station after its brief encounter with a Borg cube. It remains the most visible and intricate use of this design.

In the Star Trek: Armada game series, Work Bees construct the Federation installations.

External link[]