When a beekeeper looks inside a hive it is a very rare occurrence to find drone honeybees inside of the brood nest. Either the worker bees do not tolerate drones near the brood, or the drones themselves have little desire to visit the center of the colony. More often than not, drones can be found on the outskirts of the brood, usually on a frame or two at the very edge of the colony, hanging out together with lots of other drones – the classic boys’ club of sorts.
Many things about the drones are different from the worker bees. Besides the obvious differences of sex, honey production (drones do not produce honey), stinging (drones do not sting), and their large body sizes and ridiculously large eyes, drones mature and live at their own, more leisurely pace.
Whereas worker bees emerge from their brood cells in 21 days, drones take an unhurried 24 days. When worker bees emerge they “hit the ground running”; before long they are attending to the many tasks inside the hive. Drones, on the other hand, mature slowly. They are not capable of mating until they are at least 6 days old. During this time, they appear to have not much to do other than to eat and relax.
Even eating itself is relaxing, because young drones do not even feed themselves! When drones are born they quickly learn how to solicit workers for food – especially nurse bees, which will feed them a mixture of honey, pollen and brood food. Then, after feeding, it’s back to another stress free day in their own little man cave . . .