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So i let this guy put some splits, 3 frame nucs, in my bee yard. First he brings some in early march, too cold. Then he brings 5 more but with mostly drone comb. Of the 8 nucs he set up i do not think he even got 1 mated queen. I opened a few of his nucs and i could not believe my eyes! There was as many drones as there should bee workers! Hundreds of them, maybe 7% workers. The really weird thing is that the drones were walking around like they were workers! Unless this guy has found a way to get drones to feed larvae then those queens are doomed. I had to have the cops run him off when i caught him at my place when I got home and he had my bee boxes in the back of his truck so we are not on speaking terms. Has any one out there ever heard of drones doing a workers job? The curiosity is killing me How this will play out. Jim
 

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Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
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Drones may add some heat. Drones buzz you sometimes, so they may add to defense (but only by bluffing). They don't feed and they don't forage. Mostly they fly out every afternoon and fly until they are exhausted trying to propagate the species...
 

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To answer your question....drones do nothing for the good of the hive. Their only purpose is to mate a virgin queen.....and eat, eat, eat.
 

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Wouldn't mating with virgin queens in order to propagate the species be something that is considered for the good of the hive?

If you consider feeding a queen well in order to get a good end product of a productive and healthy queen could something similar be said of the drones? I'd think that the healthier the drones are the healthier their sperm would be and maybe that could have some sort of beneficial effect on the resultant mated queen.

Any thoughts?
 

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Sure, healthy drones make mated queens, although supposedly honeybees have some mechanism for making it unlikely that a queen will mate with drones from her own hive. Even bees seem to have an incest taboo. So healthy drones help ANOTHER hive, but by doing so pass on their hive's genes, so they help their gene line.

The question in this thread, though, is do they ever help feed the babies, change diapers, etc? Workers will adapt their roles based on needs, for example by accelerating becoming foragers, or by workers laying eggs if the queen is absent. So it is an interesting question ... if a hive suddenly has a huge drone population as described in the lead post, do the drones adapt to act like nurse bees? I'm thinking this is a really messed up situation in all respects, so aberrant behavior might be expected.

If the queen were never mated successfully, she would make drones. So would laying workers. The queen's pheromones (or lack thereof) should tell the hive what the problem is, but would it tell drones to care for their little brothers? If laying workers are trying to preserve their genes by making drones, for this strategy to work the resulting offspring must be cared for.
 

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So it is an interesting question ... if a hive suddenly has a huge drone population as described in the lead post, do the drones adapt to act like nurse bees?
Nurse bees produce royal jelly from their hypopharyngeal glands, which is used to feed larva (and the queen). But drones cannot produce royal jelly, so their usefulness as replacement nurses would be minimal at best.

Honeybee nurses possess large hypopharyngeal glands (HG) which enlarge their volume until about day 10 after adult eclosion and shrink after the onset of foraging (>day 15 (Deseyn and Billen, 2005)). HGs of honeybee queens and drones are vestigial (Snodgrass, 1956).

http://bio.biologists.org/content/early/2014/03/25/bio.20147211.full
 

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Considering that the male bees only do one thing, and they are very very good at doing that one thing, and that one things is essential for the survival of the species;

I suggest we change their names from "drones" to "specialists."
 

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I suggest we change their names from "drones" to "specialists."
As a recently retired member of the Unmanned Air Vehicle industry, I'm sensitive to misuse of the term "drone". The one place I approve of the term is applied to male honeybees. However, this suggestion to rename them is interesting. I will point out that, the instant their job is done, they become "Unmanned Former Fertilization Specialists."
 

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Spent Specialist = happy queen
 
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