Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Drones are male honeybees. They are produced when the queen bee lays unfertilized eggs. This type of reproduction is called parthenogenesis as the queen and drones share the same genes. Drones are haploid in its origin with 16 chromosomes.
A laying worker bee will produce drones exclusively.
Drones are characterized by eyes that are twice the size of those of worker bees and queens, and a body size greater than that of worker bees, though usually smaller than the queen bee. Their abdomen is stouter than the abdomen of workers or queen. Although heavy bodied, drones have to be able to fly fast enough to catch up with the queen in flight.
Drones are stingless.
Their main function in the hive is to be ready to fertilize a receptive queen. Mating occurs in flight, which accounts for the need of the drones for better vision, which is provided by their big eyes. Should a drone succeed in mating it will soon die because the reproductive organ and associated abdominal tissues are ripped from the drone's body as copulation occurs. Several drones mate with a virgin queen on her mating flights. Honeybee queen breeders may breed drones to be used for artificial insemination or open mating. A queen mating yard must have many drones to be successful.
Towards winter all drones are driven out of the hive and there are no drones in the hive in the winter. A colony begins to rear drones in the begining of summer. The life expectancy of a drone is about 90 days.
Drones never exhibit other typical worker bee behaviors -- such as nectar and pollen gathering, nursing, hive construction, etc. Since the bee's stinger is a modified ovipositor (an egg laying organ), the drone is defenceless and can not defend the hive. This has led the drone to be considered as a cannonacal example of a worthless member of a society. Although the drone is highly specialized to one function, mating and continuing the propagation of the hive, it is not completely without side benefit to the hive. All bees, when they sense the hive's temperature deviating from proper limits, either generate heat by shivering, or exhaust heat by moving air with their wings -- behaviors which drones do share with worker bees. Drones fly in abundance in the early afternoon.
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