It’s time for the Drones (males) to go…

So, now that Fall is truly upon us, a beekeeper must look towards helping the hives survive the winter. Five of my hives are doing fine, but the 6th one may not make it until spring. They have, what appears to me, to be a virgin queen (I’m not totally sure, but usually mated queens are larger and she is rather slim – along with the fact that she has been there for a couple months and hasn’t laid any eggs).

One of the duties that worker bees (females) carry out in the fall is get rid of the drones (the males). The drone’s only job is to mate with the queen during her mating flight in the spring. The remaining drones from spring and summer just hang out in the hive and eat. Because the workers (who cluster together during the winter) need the food they made (honey and stored pollen), the drones are kicked out and/or killed to conserve food. I added brood from another hive last week to try to get their numbers up so that they can cluster successfully. I have honey I can add to the hive and will feed them fondant during the winter, so if the numbers are good, they should be able to generate enough heat to make it. The problem will be building their numbers up in the spring. With a virgin queen, they won’t get a good start and might lose too many bees to continue to cluster until it gets consistently warm. The hive may make it until February, and then die.

There’s always one hive that gives a beekeeper up at night during the winter…..