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Idleness explained?

What, no drones?

Last week, I commented on the idleness of drones sitting in a bunch doing nothing in the middle of the brood frame in the observation hive. I now think I know why they were behaving like that.

I’ve been away for a few days and today I cannot see a single drone in the observation hive. It would seem that now that the summer nectar flow is over and the colony is preparing for winter, the drones were being prepared, probably by starvation, to be thrown out of the hive as they were surplus to colony requirements.

And I missed the spectacle of the workers dragging out tens of drones through the tube — that would have been quite a sight!

I have seen the end results of drone eviction: a pile of drones outside a hive entrance, but I had only ever read about how they are starved, weakened, driven into hive corners before being driven or carried out. It seems they may have been coralled rodeo-style before the final indignity.

It leaves me curious though that a colony in such a small hive would be confident to go into winter. I had really expected queen cells to be built and some late-season swarming. And I had planned not to try to overwinter them in an observation hive with just one brood frame and two super frames. I’ll re-think that now.

Turlough, Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger

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