Dead Man Walking…or Flying

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Drone Bee

Ah…the life of drone bees (that’s the males) is such a carefree, easy thing. The worker bees raise them, feed them, and send them off to “work” each day at the drone congregation areas. While at “work” they wait around to see if a virgin queen comes by and happens to want to mate with a few of them. (Now for the lucky guys chosen to mate with the queen, the story ends there, cause they die after they do the deed.) But the bachelor drones, they just return to the hive to be fed by the workers, rest, and do it all again tomorrow. They play all day while the female bees do the real work. To be fair, if the hive is too warm or too cold, the drones do help with warming or cooling the hive, but that’s about it.

Until October.

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Female Worker Bee Attacks Drone Bee

When the weather starts to cool down, the girls wise up. Winter is tough for the bees and resources are scarce. There is nothing extra to waste on drones who don’t contribute much to the well being of the hive. One day the boys come home, expecting to be cared for and catered to, but instead they are met at the hive door with a rude reception.

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Yellow Jacket Finds A Tasty Drone Snack

The workers attack the drones and will not allow them back into the hive. Drones don’t even get issued stingers, so they are no match for the waiting females. Eventually the drones are killed and fall to the ground in front of the hive, where yellow jackets are waiting to eat their dead bodies.

By pure luck I was out at the hives at just the right time and caught a video of the girls kicking the guys to the curb. It was pretty ruthless, but in the animal kingdom it’s all about survival. The drones are easy to spot in the clip because they are larger and darker than the workers.

Yep…it’s Halloween at the hive. Sometimes the girls just can’t Bee Sweet, but that’s no excuse for you not to bee!

4 thoughts on “Dead Man Walking…or Flying

  1. There was a lot of commotion at the hive this morning–my first reaction was what the h*** is going on, but on looking more closely–and thanks to your video–I realized that the girls were in the process of “cleaning house”.

    Like

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