The Drone Towers

My aunt asked me to come take a look at her hives because there were too many drones in it from what she could see, and she was right. I’m not sure why there are so many in BOTH hives, or why both of the colonies chose to make a full frame of just drone brood right next to the brood nest. They each have 3.5 full frames of capped worker cells, but no new wax is being drawn out, and there is virtually no food in either of the colonies. I work today but I have tomorrow off, so I’m going to try and find a way to feed both of the hives that I can get to them by thursday. They’re both Warre’ hives so I’m not sure what i can do. I think I might just have to do an external feeder on the other side of the yard.

I may have mentioned that I made half frames for all of the boxes my cousin built, and they made all the difference in handling the comb. I got to the hive that didn’t have half frames and half a “frame” of wax broke off because it was too hot. fortunately that was a piece I was going to take out anyway because it was all drone brood, but it was definitely not something I want to happen regularly.

Both colonies had plenty of new eggs, with most of the space being used by capped worker cells. I saw three swarm cells being constructed on the bottom of a single frame in the hive without the half frames, but they weren’t very big and didn’t have eggs in them. I switched the top and middle box on that hive in the hopes that the empty space above and below them would encourage some sort of growth. I don’t understand how they can have so little food when literally everything is in bloom right now. I just finished painting the hive boxes and parts I bought for the swarm I caught, so once I get the wire foundation in I will check on my hives. The colony I bought has been increasingly busy and pollen is constantly being hauled in. I think my aunt might just be in a food desert because the last few years her bees have never managed to bring in much honey at all. Which is weird because she lives in a very rural setting where wildflowers should be abundant. And my bees only rarely seem to be without food. Blackberries are in full bloom everywhere, so there’s definitely a flow on. I’m kind of excited to check on my bees actually. I wonder how much honey they have!

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4 responses to “The Drone Towers”

  1. Emily Scott says :

    Bear in mind that foundationless hives produce a LOT more drones. Perhaps they have been eating all the food! Normally colonies will start kicking the drones out if they run low on stores. An external feeder could encourage robbing but I don’t know what options there are for Warre feeders.

    • willowbatel says :

      I’m definitely starting to notice that trend, haha.
      That’s probably part of the honey issue, but its weird to me that they never manage to build up enough in those hives. I’m not sure if its the hives or the location, because my bees have always done fine as far as honey collection goes but they’re in langstroths.

  2. Emma Sarah Tennant says :

    A recent study has suggested that sometimes rural settings have less wildflowers for bees, or less variety, because it may be more farmed, whereas cities – at least where the study was done – may have an abundance of wildflower areas in parks and gardens. Also foundationless hives have a lot more work to do generating more wax before they get round to honey production too and more likely to produce more drone without the uniform foundation to guide them in the direction many beekeepers would prefer. I wonder though if foundationless hives produce more drone if wild honeybee colonies also produce more drone, which would have advantages and disadvantages that I can see. An interesting thought though. Great post 🙂

    • willowbatel says :

      After several years of smaller hive populations that study makes sense. The girls this year started with several bars of wax and a full “frame” of honey, plus got two pollen patties. Even with all of that help they aren’t doing well. If I had the space I would bring them to my house so I could watch them a little more closely and to see if the change in setting helped them at all.

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