The Book of Six © Six Facts About Honey Bee Drones

Bee signOur fasination with honey bees continues as we learn about drones.

  1. Drones are male bees.
  2. They cannot sting; their stinger has been replaced with a sex organ.  Drones fertilize receptive queen bees.  Several drones will mate a queen on her mating flight. Drones die after mating because the penis and associated abdominal tissues are ripped from the drone’s body at sexual intercourse.
  3. Drones have eyes twice the size of worker bees and queens.  Better to find the queen in flight with.
  4. The life expectancy of a drone is about 90 days.
  5. In areas with cold winters, drones are driven out of the hive in autumn.  A colony will begin to rear drones again in the spring and early summer.  The drone population peaks at the same time swarm season occurs.
  6. Drones only carry the genetics of the queen, resulting in an unfertilized egg.

Drones are not in the group of bees in which the tag line “busy as a bee” applies. Drones don’t exhibit typical worker bee behaviors such as nectar and pollen gathering, nursing, or hive construction.

When a drone is  picked up by hand, they will often times try to frighten the disturber by swinging its tail towards the fingers; they are otherwise defenseless without a stinger.

Water bee

Book of Six © Six Facts About the Queen Bee

Book of Six © Six Facts About Worker Bees

Special thanks to Bob Allen, bee keeper, for your time in providing us with all this great information and for allowing us to tour your hives.

Copy and photos by Helen Yoest

Helen Yoest is a garden writer and coach through her business Gardening With Confidence Follow Helen on Twitter @HelenYoest and her Facebook page, the Gardening With Confidence fan page. Helen also serves on the board of advisors for the JC Raulston Arboretum.



  1. Kat said

    Interesting. I never knew all this. Now that I know, I’m glad I’m not a drone.

  2. Me too, Kat! H.

  3. michelle said

    Great info. I just read about honey bees in the magazine maryjanes farm.

  4. Janet said

    Still think it is better to be Queen! bummer for the drone.

  5. Seriously Janet, what is the better bee? After looking at them with distinction, none would be fun. You are queen by birth, of course you will want to be queen…you know no different. I was born a worker so I will accept my role. At least as a worker been, my abdomen is safe! H.

  6. Les said

    Speaking as a male — OUCH!

  7. Les, In know right? Notice how I didn’t mince words? There really is no easy way to say it. lol!

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