A male honey bee is called a drone. Drones have one role in the colony, and when they are no longer needed, worker bees will kick them out of the hive.
Often called lazy because they don’t do as much as their female counterparts, drones are vital for the expansion of the bee colony. Read on for more interesting drone bee facts.
1. Drones cannot sting.
Drone bees do not have stingers. That means that they are unable to protect themselves. However, they will sometimes swing their abdomen around in an attempt to frighten their attacker.
2. Drones mate in the air.
Queens must mate in flight because it increases the odds of mating with drones from a different colony. She will typically mate with up to 15 drones. This ensures genetic diversity for future generations of the colony.
3. They die after mating.
After mating, the drone becomes paralyzed and falls mid-air. Drones that have not successfully mated will return to the hive and attempt to mate again.
4. Nurse bees feed them.
One of the reasons drones are called lazy is because they don’t even feed themselves. Instead, they rely on nurse bees to feed them.
5. Drones are haploid.
Drone bees develop from unfertilized eggs, which means that they receive no genetic material from a father. Because of this, they are haploid, meaning that they possess only a single set of chromosomes, instead of 2 sets like female bees.
6. Varroa mites like drone brood.
Varroa mites prefer to lay eggs on drone brood because those cells stay capped longer. Therefore, they are able to produce more mites from drone brood than from worker brood. Because of this, mites are found much more frequently in drone brood.
Beekeepers will often use drone frames to keep the drone comb in one area. Then, once the drone cells are capped, they can be removed, thus removing much of the mite population.
7. Drones get kicked out of the hive in the fall.
Since mating only happens during warm weather, drones are not needed in the winter. In the fall, worker bees will stop feeding them. The drones will be kicked out of the hive and will die shortly after.
8. On average, a drone has a lifespan of 1 month.
The average lifespan of a drone is 30 days, however, some can live up to 90 days.
9. Drones signal swarm season.
Swarming is when a single colony splits into 2 separate colonies. This happens when the queen bee leaves the hive to find a new home. Half of the colony will accompany her.
Beekeepers are often on the lookout for drones around the hive, because this may mean that swarming season has begun. Queens will not leave the hive if there are no drones around to mate with, so when drones appear, you may see a swarm soon.
10. Drones are essential to the colony.
Drones may have a bad reputation of being lazy because they don’t do as much as busy worker bees, however they are essential to the survival of the colony. Drones are needed for genetic diversity in the hive.
Queens mate with multiple drones for genetic diversity and resistance to disease. This gives the colony the best chance of survival in the future.