Drone to drone
When I was trying to establish the size of the Greenham Common Drone Congregation Area (DCA — those special sites where honeybee drones gather in the hope of mating with a queen), I met a couple flying a radio-controlled drone.
In conversation, they told me that they had noticed some insects flying around their drone. I was obviously intrigued — all the more so when they told me that their drone had a video camera onboard. They have sent me this video:
video kindly supplied by Charlotte.
The insects must be honeybee drones attracted by the movement. Honeybee drones will even chase after pebbles thrown in the air in a DCA, so despite the fact that the radio-controlled drone is rather unlike a queen, their excitement clearly gets the better of them!
This finding becomes more intriguing when you realise the radio-controlled drone is flying at somewhere between 10 and 20 metres. I find drones at just three metres above the ground. If I raise the fishing rod lure to five metres, the result is no better and, if anything, it doesn’t attract so many drones.
Could the drones be flying at two different bands of heights or are they spread evenly in height above ground?
Earlier research (Koeniger et al, 1989) observed that Italian drones were most abundant at four metres above the ground, while Carniolan drones were more abundant at 2o metres. Koeniger thought these characteristics were inherited and that Italian queens were more likely to mate with Italian queens and vice-versa.
As a result of the radio-controlled finding, I have put out a call to drone-flyers to see if they have had similar experiences. Already I have had a report of one drone being «swamped by bees» on the famous Hampstead Heath, a parkland hill in North London.
The story so far in case you’ve missed it:
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 recorded Drone Congregation Area
8 September 2015 In search of a Drone Congregation Area SatNav
27 October 2015 Hilltopping
4 July 2016 Greenham Common DCA first visit
16 July 2016 Greenham Common — finding the extent of the DCA
Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger