Although I’ve seen many evicted drones, I’ve never seen a huddle of drones quite like this. Around here, drones are usually evicted beginning in August. I often see them struggling with workers on the landing board and then, after they lose, they wind up in the grass below the hive.
In the following days, I often see the drones crawling listlessly up a blade of grass or wrestling with a yellowjacket. A few days after that, the dead ones begin to reek. To me, a pile of dead drones smells a lot like an AFB infestation, so I end up checking the brood frames just in case.
Late to leave the hive
This huddle of drones was photographed by Debbie Fyda in Ohio. You can see the hive openings to the right where the workers continue to come and go. Because these drones were evicted late in the year, they clustered together for warmth, just to the left of the entrances. Why were they evicted so late in the year? I don’t know for sure, but I assume the lateness was caused by the erratic weather patterns that affected many parts of the country. Something in the strange weather may have given the workers a false cue—but that’s just a guess.
I agree with Debbie that it’s kind of sad to watch the drones die. On the other hand, that is the way the system works. When I see the drones being tossed out, I know the colony is preparing for winter by doing what it must.
Honey Bee Suite