Friday, January 22, 2010

The End of A Drone's Life and Other Things

Could you imagine being treated like a "king" from the day you were born till the day you were thrown out in the cold?? That's the fate of the poor drone in the world of the honeybee. The honeybees are all female except for the drones the only males in the colony and their only role is to fertilize the Queen. Ahh...the life of a drone...... he is fed by the worker bees and nurse bees when he gets hungry and only leaves the "comforts of home" when he flies out to mate with the Queen or to use the bathroom ;) lol Honeybees are very hygienic and WILL NOT defecate in their hive. As a matter of fact we beekeepers see the evidence on our cars and other surfaces in the vicinity. It looks like yellow specks....okay I'm off the subject...sorry ;) back to my story. This poor guy has met his fate. The girls threw him out. It finally got cold here and during the winter the less mouths to feed the better in the bee world. I've noticed them running the drones out for about a week then it dawned on me to take pictures. Still they didn't come out very good. But good enough to see that it's a drone. A strong hive will usually house a hundred or so drones,less than a thousand, they die off here and there and aren't hatched out at the same time. Rotating so to speak. They don't all have the fortune of mating with the Queen, the one that does falls to his death after mating.
The queen stops laying eggs when the temps start dipping low signalling the onset of winter. She will mate again before the drones are thrown out to have fertile eggs for the spring.
She choses which eggs will be fertile (females) and unfertile (drones). The worker bees build larger cells for the drones because they are bigger bees.
We had some freezing weather that came upon us quickly and when the temps plummet some girls are caught out and don't quite make it back home to the safety and warmth of home. I found these girls outside of their hive, some loaded with pollen and barely moving. It breaks my heart to see these poor girls so close but yet so far from home, still struggling to make it. I pick them up carefully and take them inside and when they start warming up I put them in a jar and give them a drop of honey and before long they are buzzing around wanting out. This is the time to be careful especially if it's still freezing outside. I keep them covered (and you have to do each hive separately) take them to "their" hive and let them either crawl in or some will prefer to fly above making sure the hive is theirs, before going in.
You can see one of them crawling around on the inside of the jar, above.
There are so many stands that you can place the hives on this one above is one made of steel.
The one below is concrete cinder blocks. We face the holes to the outside instead of up because ants tend to build inside the holes and that's not a good thing. I just read that a good deterant for ants is powdered cinnomon sprinkled around the base of the hive on the ground. If you are thinking of becoming a beekeeper a good book on the subject is "Beekeeping for Dummies" by Howland Blackiston. I would recommend reading this book BEFORE getting started. This is a book I still refer to. Another good read is "First Lessons in Beekeeping" by Keith S. Delaplane, another I reference to.

This is a design my husband made for us. It is wonderful! The only problem is it was made for "his" height. ;-) Since he (my husband) works and "at this time" I'm at home full time and by the time he gets home it's to "late" to work bees, I work the hives during the mornings( during the summer) whew....anyway we had to move the hive to cinder blocks til he can "lower" it for me;-)
This design is wonderful because it is just the right width to hold the frames during inspection of the hive. You can see in these pics that we have had a LOT of rain....
Still even though it's cold outside don't forget that the girls still get make sure they have fresh water to drink. They'll love ya for it...........

BEE WARM.........


  1. You are so sweet to save those poor girls that nearly freeze to death! The difference in height between you and Joe is big enough that Joe may want to build hydraulic stands that can be adjusted up or down!! Not that you're short..... he's just tall ;)

  2. That's not a bad idea....although the height adjustment for the girls might cause them to have nose bleeds lol....not that he's that tall or anything ;o)