The short, sad lives of drones
After a night in the deep freeze, the frozen comb had poor dead drones all over it. It sounds harsh that we have to kill the drones. But we’re raising a food crop, folks, and while we love our bees, livestock management is not all romance.
Drones are the males. Here is a photo of some drones among some worker bees. You can identify the drones by their big, square butt and enormous eyes; the worker bees have elegantly pointed abdomens, and are smaller and cuter. Drones also sound like B-52s when they fly, and they have no stingers; Kimberley safely carried one in her bare hand around the office to show everyone.
Drones have only one purpose: to mate with a queen and provide sperm to fertilize a lifetime of eggs that will produce workers. The rest of the time drones lounge about the hive eating honey and getting in the way. And if there are too many drones, increasing congestion in the brood area, they can encourage swarming. The last thing we want our bees to do is all fly away.
At the end of summer the worker bees will forcibly evict all the drones to a certain death outside the hive. So I feel less badly about killing them. Plus, the drones have varroa mites! We found 7. Too many. We hate varroa mites.