Meet Mr. Drone
Imagine a honeybee that doesn’t collect nectar, doesn’t produce beeswax, doesn’t take care of the larva, doesn’t nurse the young bees, doesn’t protect the colony, and can’t even sting. The drone honeybee’s sole purpose in life is to mate with a queen. Notice the enormous eyes. They come in handy for finding a suitable mate.
Interestingly, the drone honey bee never mates inside of a colony. The drone leaves the colony for mating approximately six days after hatching. Drones normally fly in the afternoon, provided the weather is warm and sunny, with little or no wind. When it is time to mate, a drone loads his huge body with honey, like a tanker, and heads out for flights of a mile or longer. His destination: special areas called “drone congregation areas.” Drone congregation areas are specific geographic locations where groups of drones wait for the arrival of virgin queen bees by detecting their pheromones. A virgin queen will mate with ten to twenty drones, but the drone has only one mating event, which is both his first and last. Shortly after mating with a queen, the drone dies.