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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,196

    Default Drones, drones, drones!

    Has anyone else seen copious amounts of drones in their hives this year? I've never had so many drones before. I'll pull out a frame and 85% of the bees will be drones. I've always seen drones mixed in well with the other bees, but this year I'm finding the guys are hanging out together. Here's a typical 'drone' frame.



    Yes, these are from hives that are queen right.
    Regards, Barry

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    OKC, OK USA
    Posts
    2,870

    Default Re: Drones, drones, drones!

    Yikes, I have noticed many more this year but not that much.... That queen really wants to spread her genes.
    Mike Forbes
    Red Dirt Apiaries

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    3,288

    Default Re: Drones, drones, drones!

    Barry,

    I'm seeing a much higher percentage of drones than normal this spring as well. In my case it coincided with colonies that were preparing to swarm and I attributed it to that. Maybe there's something else going on.

    I was at one of my yards this past Sunday checking on some swarm nucs. At about 3:30, drones began suddenly returning to the hives in very high numbers. This happened with all the colonies simultaneously. In the past I've noticed higher numbers of drones returning to their hives at certain times of the day, but I've never seen this many before. They were covering the front of the boxes and blocking up the entrance, a total bottleneck. I don't know what's happening or why, I just know this is very unusual.
    To everything there is a season....

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,122

    Default Re: Drones, drones, drones!

    I shake a lot of bees out of brood nests, and through a queen excluder, to grow queen cells. In the central combs with brood, drones are in low numbers, and evenly mixed in with workers. On the outside combs, the drones are like the comb you show. I don't bother shaking the outside two combs because the drones clog up my excluder, making it hard to fine the queen.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    moravia,ny
    Posts
    1,165

    Default Re: Drones, drones, drones!

    bees can't raise a lot of drones without alot of drone comb. look at your comb quality?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,196

    Default Re: Drones, drones, drones!

    Michael -

    This comb was an outside frame. I see the pattern you describe. Have always just seen drones mixed in. I split all my hives this year so wonder if that plays into it. They prepared to swarm but then got split. I'll look closer at the combs, but I don't recall seeing an excessive amount of drone comb.
    Regards, Barry

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Pope county, Arkansas, USA
    Posts
    93

    Default Re: Drones, drones, drones!

    I noticed the same thing on a trap out.. The 9,10 frame on bottom box was covered with drones. I was thinking the queen was lost inside of the wall.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,196

    Default Re: Drones, drones, drones!

    This frame came out of a four frame nuc that I split off another hive. There were so many drones in this hive, I just about shook all the bees off onto the ground and take the hive away. It's near impossible to see a queen with that many drones. I never saw one and figured this hive was hopeless. The frame that had the swarm cells on it were open, but no queen and no eggs. Decided to take it home with me and give it to my daughter to mess around with. See if she wanted to try and get them to raise another queen. While we were transferring the frames into her hive body, I spotted a queen going around the bottom bar. The bees are always a step ahead of me!
    Regards, Barry

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,044

    Default Re: Drones, drones, drones!

    I have to believe it is a result of the exceptional spring conditions you apparently had over there. Are there more or less drones in your small cell hives?
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Springfield, MO, USA
    Posts
    102

    Default Re: Drones, drones, drones!

    I am noticing the same thing. There are a few of my hives that have an unusually large number of drones in them. More than I have ever noticed in the past.

    Also started a trap out this week (using Cleo's design of course), there were thousands of drones around the opening. Now obviously, I can't see inside of the tree, or know if she is a drone layer, but the sheer number of drones was not something I have seen before.

    I'd love to hear some theories on this unusual occurence.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    barry co., Michigan
    Posts
    293

    Default Re: Drones, drones, drones!

    i have a lot of drones this year but i havent been doing this long enough to say its more than average, but its a lot

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Crystal Water, Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    888

    Default Re: Drones, drones, drones!

    "bees can't raise a lot of drones without alot of drone comb. look at your comb quality? "
    true.
    The only time I had so many drones in a hive was when I moved a very old and neglected hive. I replaced all the frames over a matter of months.
    I wonder if foundations have been used in these frames?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Park City Ky
    Posts
    1,605

    Default Re: Drones, drones, drones!

    Spoke at the Meade County Bee Club tonight and the first question was, "Have you noticed more drones this year than normal." No I haven't, but I have had a half dozen calls from people with gross overpopulation of drones. Unfortunately I don't have a theory. My first attack if I had this problem would be to remove the combs with excessive drone cells, and excessive drones. I look for this problem to taper off soon, (at least in Kentucky) as the honey flow dwindles, and the primary swarm season begins to ebb.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    723

    Default Re: Drones, drones, drones!

    Being a bit further South than most of you, I can share that many of us also saw greater number of drones. Early Spring was intense, with an intense early flow that we generally do not get. More experienced beekeepers are saying this year is the most intense swarming they have seen in 20 years. Many of us have had nearly everything we have swarm, even splits. In my case, nearly 25 colonies and only 1 queen from last year remaining as far as I can tell - I am far from alone in this situation this year. Early supering, reversing, many of the tricks were conducted in the apiaries to no avail. At least we raised a lot of queens off of cells. And all those drones plus the warm winter has also brought high mite loads this Spring so be clued in to that too.
    karla

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    owensboro,ky
    Posts
    2,243

    Default Re: Drones, drones, drones!

    here in northwestern KY i too am overrun with drones. my hives are packed with bees so its hard to give a percentage but it sure looks like more than 25% drones. on the plus side every super i have is full so i'll be doing an early extraction this weekend to empty some.
    wish i had this problem every year!
    "Wine is a constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy" Ben Franklin

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    roswell, georgia, USA
    Posts
    723

    Default Re: Drones, drones, drones!

    maybe they cranked-up preparing for all the swarms reported. that photo you have Barry is just crazy. almost all brood comb outside the main cluster is drone for me also and everywhere they can put it. I'm running some green drone comb that is ready to be pulled - I'll be curious.
    EAS Georgia Certified. "Tradition - Even if you have done it the same way for years doesn't mean that it is not stupid."

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,196

    Default Re: Drones, drones, drones!

    Quote Originally Posted by max2 View Post
    I wonder if foundations have been used in these frames?
    I don't do foundationless, so yes, foundation in all frames. As you can see in the photo, mostly worker cells, some drone.
    Regards, Barry

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Crystal Water, Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    888

    Default Re: Drones, drones, drones!

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry View Post
    I don't do foundationless, so yes, foundation in all frames. As you can see in the photo, mostly worker cells, some drone.
    I wonder what the explanation is? I read " 25% " drones! There must be 25% drone brood = 25% drone cells. With foundations I have no idea how this is possible?Any clues?

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,196

    Default Re: Drones, drones, drones!

    I think the queens continually laid in the drone come with the unusually warm weather we had very early. In a normal year a queen will lay in the drone cells up to a point and then you'll see it get filled with honey as it's usually on the periphery of the worker cells. Brood pattern size could have easily been much larger from early on with the warm weather. That's my guess.
    Regards, Barry

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    3,288

    Default Re: Drones, drones, drones!

    I noticed about a month ago on my frames with capped honey that the bees were ignoring worker size cells and intentionally emptying capped drone size cells, which typically run across the top and down the sides of my natural comb frames. In the brood nest as well, they were backfilling worker cells with nectar and raising drones in every large cell they could find. I know this is typical springtime and swarm prep behavior, but this was the most dramatic I've ever seen in regards to raising drones. This will be an interesting summer.
    To everything there is a season....

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