We spent Monday and Tuesday this week up in the Riverland again visiting a couple of apiaries that are now on the tail end of the orange blossom season. Due to a number of factors the bees hadn’t increased their honey supplies by as much as we had expected over the past month. It had been untypically cool which means the bees don’t fly as much and the orange trees don’t produce as much nectar. We also found some old queens who were way past their prime and due to that their colonies had become quite small and not so strong.
I got to see for the first time the results of a drone laying queen. Drones are male bees who’s single purpose is to mate with new queens. Other than that they don’t really seem to contribute much towards the greater good of the hive. They don’t work like their sisters, no nectar and pollen collection, but they’re definitely happy to eat the hives supplies. Usually this doesn’t pose too big a problem because drones will just make up a very small percentage of the colonly. Now in the case of a drone laying queen, she’s become so old that the eggs she’s laying thinking that they’ll be workers end up as drones because she can no longer fertalise them. As you can imagine when the last of the hard working female bees are gone and only their hungry brothers are left to run the hive their productivity goes downhill pretty fast.