Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Day #51 Drone Facts and Philosophy

1. Adult drones, unlike worker bees, have no stingers, so drones can't sting. Worker bees, with their barbed stingers, die when they sting someone or something. But drones are so fat and sassy they don't need to sting anyone. Their danger zone comes about when an unmated queen flies up to a drone gathering. She'll mate with 20 or 30 drones -- and the poor guys literally explode at the end of the mating process.

          It's never failed yet: whenever a man hears that fact, his comment (following a chuckle) is always, "Well, at least they die happy."

2. In a natural bee hive, drone cells (the ones that are larger than worker cells) are grouped around the bottom and sides of the hive frame. When a queen is ready to lay an egg in a large cell like that, she chooses a non-fertile egg. Yes, she can tell the difference. That non-fertile egg grows into a drone. The eggs for the worker bees are laid in a spiral pattern starting near the center of the frame. Some beekeepers think the bees waste too much energy creating all those drone cells and drone larvae, and some go so far as to cutt off the drone cells. But, guess what? The workers will just build more drone cells. Why?

      Well, I've read that if a predator breaks into a hive, it will generally start eating the comb at the edges. Voila! The drones are there to serve as sacrificial hive-savers so the worker larvae are more likely to survive.

3. Drones in the late fall are a sorry lot. You see, each drone eats an inordinate amount of honey, and a hive couldn't survive the winter with the non-productive fellas eating up their food stores, So, as the weather turns colder, the workers force the drones out of the hive and dump the drone brood (the unhatched baby drones) out the front door. And I thought A Slaying Song Tonight was gruesome! It's nothing compared to this mass murder.

4. The good news is that as winter comes to a close, the queen begins laying eggs for both workers and drones that will mature shortly before the new workers are needed for the upcoming spring nectar and pollen. The drones that emerge get to eat a lot and go flying around, where they gather with other drones and buzz-buzz-buzz about guy things, until along flies a brand new queen. And then . . .well, they die happy.

BEEattitude for Day # :
       Blessed are the drones, for they shall contribute to the survival of the hive. 

One thing Fran is grateful for right now:
       The rain that is filling the pond near the corner of GA-20 and Old Peachtree Road. 

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