It’s That Time of the Year Again: Drones Be Gone...
This is not a good time of year to be a drone in a beehive.
As summer gives way to autumn, and daylight dwindles, the female worker bees of the hive prepare for winter. There is not likely to be any more swarming, which means there’s no need for any new queen bees to be born and mated.
Since the only purpose of the drone is to mate with new queens, he will no longer be tolerated in the hive because he has outlived his use. It is literally his only purpose. He doesn't build honeycomb, nor does he forage or guard the hive. He literally hangs around mating grounds waiting for a Queen Bee to mate with. Now he has reached his expiration date.
The worker bees can no longer forage because most flowers are gone for the season, so they start to eat their honey reserves. Mr. Drone is just one more mouth to feed, and since he has no role in the hive at this time, he is eating food he doesn't need from the hive perspective.
The ladies of the hive know that food supplies need to be conserved and consumed sparingly to last longer. Especially nowadays in changing climates, with long-lasting summers and winters starting late.
It’s sad to see drones being evicted from their home, since certain death awaits them. If they don’t die of the cold or from hunger, they may be stung to death by the females. These drones most likely never mated with a queen bee or they would have died at that time. They are luckier than their brothers who mated with a virgin queen bee and died right afterwards, but now their luck has run out.
Here are three short videos, lasting 1:17 minutes, 1:41 minutes and 3:05 minutes, showing different drone eviction tactics at different hives:
If you have a beehive, you may see a scattering of dead drones and worker bees beneath or near the hive around this time of year.
If the worker bees sting them to death, they will also die usually. There are then fewer mouths to feed in the hive.
The short videos above show drones being evicted by worker bees. Those girls are relentless in how they get the job done, but the drones keep trying to sneak back in for just one more honey supper. How long will it be before the worker bees get fed up and just sting the drone to death? Maybe a fast death is preferred over slow cold starvation.
In the bee world, everything is ordered and in the best interests of the whole, not the individual.
Have worker bees started evicting drones yet at your beehive? And how does it work south of the Equator? We'd love to hear from you over on our Facebook page!