Life Cycle of a Drone

Day 1: The queen lays an unfertilized egg in a drone sized cell.

Day 3: Egg hatches

Day 3-11: The drone larvae is fed by workers.

Day 11: The cell is capped and the larvae spins its cocoon in preparation for metamorphosis.

Day 24: The drone chews through the capping and emerges into the hive.

Drones begin their life by begging food from the nurse bees. As they mature they can begin feeding themselves from the honey stores. Towards the end of the first week they begin leaving the hive. First for orientation flights, then further away to drone congregation areas, or DCA’s. There they hang out waiting to catch the scent of a queen on her mating flight. They pursue her, then die after mating.

In a dearth, or a time of no available nectar, worker bees may remove drone brood and/or kick adult drones out of the hive. All adult drones are expelled before winter.

Drones can be differentiated from worker bees by their larger eyes, bigger bodies, and blunt, rounded abdomens. They also are incapable of stinging so they make excellent practice bees for learning to pick up and mark a queen. If a hive contains mostly or all drones it will not survive without intervention. Either the queen failed to mate and can lay only unfertilized eggs, or the hive is queen less and workers are attempting to lay eggs. Hives with laying workers will have multiple eggs in a cell, eggs stuck to the side of the cell, eggs in the pollen or honey, etc. Without drastic and immediate help, and sometimes even then, this hive is doomed.