these are the three sizes and varieties of italian honeybees that make up a hive. There is, and can only be, one queen. There are thousands and thousands of her daughter worker bees, and all year long the queen will lay eggs for more workers. Then there are the drones. The drones are the male honeybee who get to live in the hive for about 7 months out of the year, here in western washington. They are good for one thing, and that is to mate with a virgin queen as she first emerges. The drones can't help defend the hive because they have no stinger, they can't help feed the hive because they don't forage. They just laze around, eating and buzzing, and waiting to screw. Sounds like the life, eh? except for this time of year, when a healthy hive recognizes the darth in nectar and says to itself, "why are we feeding these lazy asses who won't contribute anything until next spring"? This is the time of year when the workers go on strike and kick out all the drones. Like, fighting and killing and defensive blocking of all the entrances.
Wednesday was a gorgeous sunny day (ok, hotter than Hades in my suit), and I went out to the bee yards of Alm Hill to start feeding, medicating (more on that later), and general checking up on hives. About a month ago I put entrance reducers on most of the hives and I think it's made a huge difference with the yellow jacket and bald-faced hornet issues of the past. But wednesday I got to witness something I'd never seen, and that was the active kicking out...and sometimes vicious attacks, of drones from the hive! I guess it's kinda sad, and in a way shocking to see a creature turn on it's own brother, but it's for the best. Btw, i got these stock pics off google images, but next time i'm out i'll try to capture some of the carnage!