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Don drone honeybee, the male of the hive

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Drone honeybee, but not lazy. The male of the hive. Its presence is synonymous with reproduction, fertilization, stability, abundance and continuity. That, until the climate changes, food is scarce, and they are violently expelled…


Although it is usually linked to laziness and laziness, the truth is that Don zángano, the male of the hive, fulfils many functions inside and outside it. Without a doubt, one of the three essential members of the colony.

Drone in the hive

Don zángano, the male of the hive

Male bee, whose function is to fertilize the queen, its morphological characteristics make it easily identifiable and sometimes confused with the queen for novice eyes … it does not produce honey and lacks a stinger.

Their life has an unexpected end and is often considered unworthy considering that it contributes to the offspring of the hive, but that is part of the nature of bees.

It flies more than 30 km in search of a virgin queen and can see and smell her from a great distance, it has more than 6,000 ommatidia. Those who manage to impregnate the queen die, since her genital tract is detached.

Its weight can reach 230 mg., And that of a worker bee only 100 mg., The queen can weigh 250 mg. It varies from the weight of the drone to 20 mg.

Drone cells

Drones are haploid

They come from unfertilized eggs, called pathogenesis. It is the system is characteristic of the hymenoptera, called haplodiploidy, to determine the sex of their descendants, males have half the chromosomes than females.

Repeats the genetic characteristics of the queen. They have half of chromosomes 16 and their sperm also have 16 chromosomes.

born from a cell

That is why it is said to be haploid. Its reproduction is asexual or sexual mono-gametic, since it involves a sex cell or gamete.

Sperm are produced through a special meiosis, in which all the chromosomes go to one sex cell and none to the other.

The myths about drones are many, in fact their name is associated with laziness. The truth is that it is essential within the bee colony

drone on a stone

Drone morphology

Drones are the male bees of a hive; They develop in cells with domes larger than the workers, 8 millimetres in diameter, and come from unfertilized eggs (parthenogenesis).

Unlike the queen and the workers are born 24 days after laying, their body is easily identifiable. More robust, larger eyes and longer antennae, he lacks a stinger, a long and robust rectangular abdomen, and noisy flight.

They do not have a corbicle on the third pair of legs like the workers, which prevents them from transporting pollen or propolis. It also does not have cherry glands.

As it does not pecorate like workers, it has a smaller tongue and mouthparts than workers.

Not having odoriferous glands allows them to enter any hive by virtue of the fact that the nurses who guard the entrances allow them access.

cells and worker bees
The capped drone cell is easily recognizable as it stands out as a dome.

Reproductive system

It occupies a large part of your abdomen, the testes are made up of about 200 seminiferous tubes that produce sperm that are stored in the seminal vesicles, which communicate with the testes through the vas deferens.

The ejaculatory canal empties into the bulb and then into the endophalon, this part is evacuated during copulation and the sperm is expelled along with protective mucus.

The drone will die shortly after, because during copulation it loses its organs.

Functions of the drone in the hive

Fertilize the queen : Between 12 and 24 days after hatching, they are ripe for mating, the fins that hold the queen’s genital tract must be orange, they make daily long journeys in search of hives with a virgin queen.

In the nuptial flight, the strongest will fertilize the queen, by virtue of the fact that he is the one that reaches her more easily, in his vertical flight. The queen fertilizes with several drones.

They usually have specific places where they perch during the day while waiting for a fertilization flight, and if they fail to fertilize a queen, they will wander from hive to hive.

This behavior makes them important transmitters of diseases like Nosema.

fertilization of the queen by a drone male

Produce heat : It is placed over the hexes with brood replacing the nurse workers to produce heat and warm up the brood, freeing the nurses for other functions.

The hive should be kept at 36 °C. The moment they feel an increase in heat, then they use their flapping to move the air inside and stabilize the temperature.

Distribute nectar : The drones perform the trophalaxis, which is the behavior of distributing food among the workers, providing food for up to 50 workers.

Nectar with a large percentage of water, must pass several times through the honey crop of the workers to become honey, in this way, the drones contribute to the production of honey.

male workers and drones

Drone and varroa

The highest percentage of the Varroa mite is found within the operculum, and it has a special predilection for drones that have much more capped days, which allows one more Varroa female to be fertilized, although Varroa also parasitizes the workers.

varroa within the operculum of male drones

Expulsion from the hive

When the climatic conditions change and winter approaches the food supplies also decrease, for survival and optimization of resources the colony begins to reduce the population.

Equally, the queen lowers her posture and the colony prepares for wintering, the end is near for the drones, as the workers are in charge of expelling each one out of the hive.

The males of the hive do not know how to feed. Being without the protection of the hive and without workers to feed them, the drone will fly until in a few days it dies of cold and hunger.

Male drone in the hive pike

Curious abstract

  • He does not have a father, but he does have a grandfather and is his mother’s brother.
  • He dies in the sexual act so that there is no possibility of him having sex with his daughters.
  • Her children will have many stepbrothers, because the queen has sex with many males, in the period of fertilization.
  • He will die of starvation (hunger), his life does not last more than 90 days.
  • It has no stinger.
  • Helps with tasks such as trophalaxis, ventilation, and increased internal temperature.
  • Also, their presence encourages the bees to do more work.
  • Fly more than 10 meters high and are capable of flying up to 17 km to mate.
  • The places where they congregate in the wild are called drone congregation areas.
  • The queens join them and run through the group.

Finally, So if they ever say DRONE to you, you can feel proud and not offended!

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