Out With The Guys
I don’t mind telling you, this part of beekeeping is hard for me to watch. When a honey bee colony is short of food, and when fall rolls around, the worker bees kick the male bees out.
Male bees, also called drones, carry 50% of a colony’s genetics. They are also the bees with the largest eyes and, although large, they don’t sting. They also don’t do much in the hive as they wait to mate with a queen bee from another colony. That means they are eating resources and taking up space.
When the colony starts getting ready for winter, the worker bees, all female, kick the drones out. Sometimes it’s swift and I will find their stung dead bodies in the front of the hive. Other times I will spot the drones trying to sneak back into the hive, only to be chased out by the guard bees keeping an eye on the hive entrance.
Yes, it has crossed my mind to try to keep them in a separate box and feed them myself but that’s not how the honey bee colony works.
Come spring, the colony raises new drones so the queen bees will have new suitors. It’s an efficient way to run a colony through the winter months, when no plants are blooming to provide the colony with nectar, which is flight fuel, and pollen. Pollen is basically baby bee food.
Come to think of it, I don’t recall seeing drones featured in our Honeybees Dish Towels and Pot Holder Vintage Kitchen towels, either.
Poor guys, they don’t get any respect!