Drones are the male bees in a hive. Unlike the worker bees with many roles, the drones aren’t known for being the busy bees. They do not forage for nectar or pollen. They do not build wax. They do not take care of the young. They do not even have stingers, so they cannot protect the hive. The one purpose of a drone is to mate with the queen. That’s it. I guess humans and bees have a lot more in common than I originally thought.
Drones can be easy to identify because they are quite large. They have a very fuzzy thorax, compared to the queen’s shiny thorax. Their abdomen is large and round, rather than longer and pointed at the tip. Also, their eyes come way back onto the top of their head, rather than on the front of their face like the female bees.
What is even more interesting, or disturbing, is that the queen disembowels the drones after a successful mating flight by tearing off his little bee part. Therefore, any living drone seen in a hive has done nothing but consumed the energy (honey) gathered by the other worker bees. Drones only comprise a small percentage of the bees in a hive, and in the autumn they are kicked out the front door so that the hive has less mouths to feed in the winter. Call it cruel, but just like corporate America, if you don’t perform you get fired. Or, in this case, kicked out the front door to die. Again, striking similarities to humans.
Hold your horses, and don’t get all upset. I am only kidding. But seriously, these male bees are pretty darn easy to make fun of. They don’t have stingers, so they are fun to play with (or prank people with). Below is a photo of my most favorite drone, my husband Sam, with a drone on his nose. Again, totally harmless, except for some pretty intense tickling.