About Drones

Male honey bees are called drones. Drones are easy to spot: they are larger than workers, have huge eyes that almost touch, and have a barrel-shaped abdomen with a blunt tip, unlike the pointy abdomens of their sisters.

Drones make up a small percentage of bees in a colony. Many factors contribute to the number of drones a colony will raise. Larger, healthier colonies will raise more drones, about 4.8% of the total population.1 Weaker colonies raise fewer2, as survival of the colony is the top priority, and reproduction (where the drones come in) is second.

Male honey bees have one biological imperative: to mate with a queen. They don’t contribute in any discernible way to the daily life of their colony; their sole purpose is to spread the genetics of the queen mother. Unequipped for defense, they can’t even sting.

1Mating biology of honey bees (Apis mellifera)
G Koeniger, N Koeniger, J Ellis, LJ Connor – 2014 – Wicwas Press LLC

2Thomas D. Seeley (2002) The effect of drone comb on a honey bee colony’s production of honey, Apidologie, 33 1 (2002) 75-86, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1051/apido:2001008

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