Drone Bee Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Sara Clarke-Vivier

Sara is a recently graduated PhD in Education with interdisciplinary experience in K-12 education.

What's all this buzz about? Drone bees! In this lesson you will learn about how drone bees look, what they do, and whether or not you need to watch out for their stingers.

What Is a Drone Bee?

When you open up a beehive, what do you see? Rows and rows of honey combs, and a bunch of buzzing bees. You might see a busy insect flying from flower to flower, collecting pollen and returning home to the hive make honey. That is the life of a female worker bee. A drone bee doesn't do any of those things!

Drone bees are the male bees in a bee colony. During the summer months there may be as many as 200 drone bees living there. They do not collect nectar or pollen, and they do not even sting!

A Drone Bee
A Drone Bee

So, What DO Drone Bees Do?

When we talk about bees, we use the word colony to describe a group of bees that live together. In bee colonies there are three types of bees: a queen bee, worker bees, and drone bees. While workers complete the tasks we usually think of when we think of bees, drone bees have one very different responsibility. The job of the drone bee is to mate with the queen, making it possible for her to lay eggs containing the future generations of hard-working worker bees.

Even though this sounds like a pretty easy job, especially compared to what a worker bee does every day, the life of a drone bee can be very difficult and very short. In fact, most drones do not live for more than 90 days. Drone bees automatically die when they mate with the queen bee. Additionally, drone bees are sometimes driven out of the colony by worker bees before a cold winter. This ensures that there is enough food for the queen, the workers, and the bee larvae, or babies.

What Does a Drone Bee Look Like?

If you were looking into a bee hive, you would be able to recognize a drone bee by looking for three features. First, drone bees have larger eyes than worker bees. This is important because drone bees mate with the queen bee while flying, which requires good eyesight. Second, drone bees have bigger bodies than worker bees, but are usually smaller than the queen.

A Drone Bee Hatching
A Drone Bee Hatching

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