Facts About Drones

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673px-Drohn_im_Flug_08-3Drones are male bees born with the sole intention to mate with the Queen. They look and function entirely differently from the worker bees and the Queen. They have eyes which are much larger, almost twice the size of the rest of the bees, which is the distinguishing feature of drones.  They do not contribute in nectar collection or any other activities than reproduction. They do not have any stingers behind them. They are like a syringe filled with semen waiting to inject it into the Queen and fulfill the purpose of their lives.

Fact 1: A drone waits for the virgin Queen to mate away from the hive. The area where the mating happens is called the “congregation area.” Scientists are still not sure exactly how this area is decided. Season after season every generation, the drones somehow manage to reach the same congregation area. It’s been assumed that they use some magnetic orientation to locate this area. The area is typically 10 to 40 meters above the ground.

Fact 2: Drone eggs may be laid either by worker bees or even the Queen bee. But they will not be fertilized. All those unfertilized eggs in a hive turn into drones with only one set of chromosomes from their mother.

Fact 3: A drone doesn’t have a father. It only has a mother. It sounds strange since we tend to compare everything with human life. It is impossible for us to imagine how a life can be created without combination of male and female; but, yes, drones are literally born without a direct contribution of a male. They do have a grandfather who was a drone like them and had mated with the Queen, and the fertilized eggs that she laid then turned into their mother.

Fact 4: The Sexual Suicide by the drones is a topic which is quite talked about. Yes, the drone dies in a few seconds after mating. Just like the worker bees have a stinger behind them that tears off upon stinging, the drone penis tears off upon mating and the drone dies. Even though it looks like a very sacrificial act (some even compare it to the soldiers sacrificing their lives for the country), it’s just a biological contribution for the reproduction cycle to complete. They do not do it consciously. They are just designed for the sole purpose of fertilizing the Queen. Once they do it, they do not have any purpose to live; and, hence, they die. Various types of such sexual suicide are seen in different insects.

Fact 5: Drones are born in the summer.  Within a month, they will be capable of mating and leave the hive in search of Queens. If they find a Queen, they die after mating. Even if they don’t succeed in finding a Queen and mating, by the end of summer as the weather gets cooler they will be kicked out of the hive since they consume too much of the resources without any contribution to nectar collection.

Fact 6: Apart from mating with the Queen, they are also contributing in the incubating of the hive.

Fact 7: Drones, like any other bees, have two compound eyes and three ocelli. The compound eyes are comprised of 700-800 facets, which are almost twice the number of facets in the worker bees. This enables the drones to have better vision in comparison to the worker or Queen bees.

Fact 8: The first drone flight is known as the “orientation flight;” and after that, the rest of the flights are “mating flights.”

Fact 9: The extra-sensitive antennae lets the drones track the young Queens flying around in the same area.

Fact 10: The sensitive antennae, complex eyes, and the ability to fly and stay in a constant position during mating have inspired the scientists to imitate it electronically. E-drones are electronic equipment with an ability to fly. These are either managed manually by a remote or functioned to operate automatically. They are mostly used for surveillance, security, and to capture images from various angles that are not possible to capture manually.

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