World History of Beekeeping
and Honey Hunting
By Eva Crane
Drone mating flights were not understood
until the late 1900s when drone assemblies
or congregations were intensively studied.
In these, dozens of hundreds of drones fly
fairly close together above a certain piece
of land, usually during early afternoon when
queens are likely to fly out to mate. Occasional
statements had been made in the past which
might refer to drone congregations. For
instance Gilbert White in England wrote
on 9 July 1779 in his Journals. `A surprising
humming of bees all over the common, tho'
none can be seen. This is frequently
the case in hot weather.'
The earliest clear description found of a
drone congregation was written in 1892
by Cromley in the USA.
I think that drones have a certain place to
congregate, and their noise attracts virgin
queens that may be on the wing at the time,
and they go to these places and are fertilized.
I have discovered two places that they
congregate in great numbers, about ¼ mile
from my apiary. Go there when I will, when
the drones are flying, and I can find the air
full of them, over a space of two acres. If
I stand between my apiary and the place of
congregating, I can see the drones coming
and going continually.
Drone congregations seem to have aroused
little interest until Jean-Prost observed them
in the south of France on 31 July 1955 and
described them in detail (1957, 1990).
Cooper (1986) listed drone congregation
areas known in Britain.