Fate of a drone

Who’d want to be a drone at the end of summer?

Chucked out drone

This drone has been harassed out of the hive by his sisters, who bit and tugged at him, dragging him away from the sweet benefits of their labour. Collapsed on the hive landing board, he makes a sad sight.

Wasp eating drone

His brothers have already come to an end. Their dried out, desiccated bodies litter the floor. And he has attracted the attention of a wasp, who perhaps views his large abdomen as a moving honey pot of juicy reproductive organs.

Wasp eating drone 2

The wasp is smaller, but has the advantage of a sting. He tries to move away, but he has been weakened by his earlier struggles with his sisters, and his feeble motions are no match for the persistent wasp.

Wasps eating drone 3

A second wasp joins in. His future looks set for a grisly end. I’m afraid there is no happy ending.

Here are some pretty flowers to make up for it. Everyone is out blackberry picking in the local fields.


Spiky though the thistles are, their flowers turn into soft downy seeds that drift on the breeze. Summer blowing away.

Thistle seeds

About Emily Scott

I am a UK beekeeper who has recently moved from London to windswept, wet Cornwall. I first started keeping bees in the Ealing Beekeepers Association’s local apiary in 2008, when I created this blog as a record for myself of my various beekeeping related disasters and - hopefully! - future successes.
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46 Responses to Fate of a drone

  1. A sad story, but I know it’s necessary for the survival of the colony. They can’t afford to waste food on them during the winter.
    ~The Homesteading Hippy


    • Emily Heath says:

      The drones seemed to get ejected quite early this year, even in the beginning of July one of my colonies was pushing them out. Perhaps it depends on hive genetics and how well the workers think they’re doing for stores.


      • It would make sense for stores to play an important role in this decision. What are the odds of a queen mating in late August being able to keep a hive going for the winter? I would think a swarm this late would fail, but how does it work if the hive is re-queening itself?
        ~The Homesteading Hippy


  2. cecilia says:

    Those are grizzly shots. Excellent capture. Nature is not always pretty! c


    • Emily Heath says:

      Yes. I didn’t know about the wasps eating the drones, so I was interested to see. I felt there wasn’t much point rescuing the drone, as he wouldn’t have lasted long away from the protection of the colony.


  3. I’m not sure I’d want to ever be a drone. They spend their whole life being nagged by a house full of women only to be kicked out when the fertility clock gets put to sleep for the winter. Rough life indeed.


  4. I would be the first to admit that I don’t always understand why things are the way they are.


  5. Always interesting to watch the activities of the bees, eh? The kicking out of drones is one of my most favorites to watch only b/c it can be so comical though sometimes in a slightly sad way. 🙂


    • Emily Heath says:

      I know what you mean. Once when I was inspecting a hive I spotted a drone being harassed by one of his sisters. I picked him up and removed him to a super, only for a different sister to resume the biting and pulling!


  6. solarbeez says:

    Summer blowing away,,,How poetic.


  7. O man. Drones don’t have a dignified ending, do they?


  8. Eh, they’re only haploids. 😉


  9. daveelliott says:

    We’ve all been there Emily…!

    Nice post, always fascinating to see the year go by. Funny how London is not so far away but always seems to be a couple of weeks ahead in the cycle of the year, the Blackberries are still a way off here.



  10. Tabitha says:

    Poor Mr. Drones! Our hives right now are producing more drones because a big honey flow comes in during September-October. This weekend we are planning splits to prevent swarming. Yes, swarming in September!


  11. Sad ending for drones but a feast for the wasps. It really is the end of the summer, I suppose, it is coming too quickly.


  12. DRONE

    I have an onomatopoeic name
    That sounds a little like the noise I make.
    I have no sting and I am very tame.
    My sisters feed me for the family’s sake,
    As with my sperm I may pass on their genes.
    Each afternoon I fly to congregate
    In places where we might meet virgin queens
    And maybe have a chance to copulate.
    I’m told that’s where the greatest danger lies:
    I guess that swallows try to snap us up.
    I see their movements with my compound eyes
    And don’t give them a chance on me to sup.
    A queen is here! I get her lovely scent!
    I wonder what that danger warning meant?

    I sense that virgin queen is in the mood;
    A thousand other drones here think the same.
    It’s likely that a score will score. I’m crude:
    To mount while she’s a virgin is my aim!
    I know that after me there will be more,
    She needs her spermatheca brimming full,
    But once deflowered by me she’ll be a whore!
    If I’m first, she’s in luck; I’m the prize bull!
    She’s just upwind – I think I’m getting close.
    That’s her! I have her in my sight.
    I’m nearest, what is there to lose?
    Got her! I’ll mate with all my might.


  13. In a less indifferent world I would like to think there would be a Happy Retirement Hive for bloke bees who have ceased to be of use.


  14. P&B says:

    I guess that’s the way to end a life when it’s good for only one thing: can’t forage, can’t sting…just hang out, being fed and waiting to mate. Nature figures everything out perfectly. At least he did some good for the wasps.


  15. tiffcat31 says:

    So interesting, and yet sad. I don’t think anyone would want to be a drone, especially at the end of the summer months.


  16. This drone is doomed – you are the next Attenborough Emily! 🙂


  17. disperser says:

    It would have ended differently if only he had been packing . . .


  18. Rachel says:

    I’m glad you put up the flowers at the end! But I never knew that drones met such a horrid end at the hands of their sisters.


    • Emily Heath says:

      I suppose their sisters are thinking of their future sisters, who will need their honey stores to survive the winter and start again in spring. It is a very sad side of bee life though!


  19. I’m a bit late here, but had to say how much I loved this post. You can just here those sistahs now: Get out and stay out, you lazy good-for-nothin’!


  20. Pingback: Let Summer wane and yield her place by slow degrees | My Latin Notebook

  21. willowbatel says:

    I think it was the second year that I had bees that they pulled all of the drones out of the colony seemingly at once, and a large mound of bodies pilled up just outside the entrance. The wasps and ants were very happy to come and clean things up for me!


  22. Pingback: Getting Ready For Winter | Petals and Wings

  23. M N Rajkumar says:

    A treat indeed. Visual as well as ideas. Thanks.


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