The Noble Life of the Drone

Little known and not taken into account, truth be told, these little creatures hide interesting characteristics and anecdotes to say the least. 

Let’s start with the first reliable data that testifies that in each medium-sized colony from 2000 to 6000 drones are raised (very few compared to worker bees!). In fact, being larger in size than their mates, they take longer to form in their cells and about 24 days pass between the moment of egg laying and its flickering, that is, its birth. The eggs from which the drones are born are not fertilized, but it can happen that the drones are also born from worker eggs if the queen bee becomes a rifaiola or if in the absence of the queen some workers lay drone eggs. These two factors could also lead to the extinction of the entire colony, which is why both the beekeeper and the bees themselves adopt strategies to avoid them. 

Now let’s see more specifically the characteristics that distinguish the drones: 

  • The body is very stocky and the large eyes are rich in visual receptors, so as to have less difficulty in hunting the queen during the mating phase. 
  • The coupling takes place in a very particular way, worthy of a thriller film, which has as its final outcome the death of the drone at the hands of the queen herself. 
  • Another interesting feature is the very short ligula (a sort of proboscis-shaped tongue) that does not allow it to collect nectar from flowers. 
  • The drones are involved in various activities: instead of pollinating, they keep the brood warm and participate in the circulation of the queen’s food and pheromones. 
  • Last but not least is the sad fate that awaits them. In fact, these brave insects not only find death at the hands of the queen, but also of the worker bees! In fact, in order to maintain a good balance within the community, in the period between September and October, the worker bees remove the drones from the hive or kill them directly. This always with the ultimate goal of protecting the survival of the entire hive. 

In conclusion, we have seen the difference between drone and worker bees, from birth to appearance and finally in their tasks. We discovered that the number of drones within a bee family must be kept under control and finally we understood how much this insect spends on its community and how much this can teach us humans too.

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