Vita Bee Health Global Honeybee Health Experts

Back on the drone trail

The first DCA I discovered last year showed up a sprinkling of drones today (4 May).

The first DCA I discovered last year showed up a sprinkling of drones today (4 May). Then it was wheat, today, it’s oil seed rape.

Spring is very slow in coming in southern England this year. The oil seed rape still isn’t in full blossom around here, but today was sunny and faintly warm so it was time to see if the drones are congregating yet.

Two of three known Drone Congregation Areas (DCAs) showed up nothing, but the third had three, maybe four, drones chasing the lure. Actually they were more interested in my hat. I’m starting to hear them before I see them. Their buzzing contrasts clearly from the many bumble bees that were around.

I am confident that these DCA locations persist from year-to-year and some obviously across the centuries.

There are no signs of queen cells in my colonies yet, but I expect that to change this weekend as the temperature rises and the nectar flows more freely.

As soon as I find a good response in known DCAs I discovered last year, I will start the search in some new areas I have in mind and put a few new ideas to the test. Since I have started eight weeks earlier this year and in time for the swarming season, I am hoping for some even more dramatic results.

In case you missed it, here’s the story from last year:

1 July 2015 In search of a mate

2 July 2015 Drone Congregation Areas

7 July 2015 Another Drone Congregation Area

20 July 2015 Video of Life in a Drone Congregation Area

28 July 2015 Do drones assemble above prehistoric sites?

3 August 2015 Drone Goal

10 August 2015 Rediscovering the first Drone Congregation Area more than two centuries later

8 September 2015 In search of a Drone Congregation Area SatNav

27 October 2015 Hilltopping

Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger

  • Tim

    We are a small queen rearing group and want to investigate DCA’s in our area.
    Your blog is interesting and helpful, tankyou.
    Di you use Vita swarm lure, queen pheeramone or something else?
    And would a rod 4 metres long do the job?

    • Turlough

      The chemical in the drone lure is 9-ODA, a queen pheromone. Vita swarm wipe is not effective for this particular job, but it is for attracting swarms! I wouldn’t be so bold to say what length of a rod is necessary in your area (where are you, please?), but I find 4m is plenty. However, other researchers look much higher, so it might depend on your particular environment. Please tell me how you get on — I’d love to know.

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