Friday, October 1, 2010


Everyone is hungry here. The chickens, the bees, the dogs and the people. We are seemingly driven by our inner clock to put on the layer of fat we will need later in our winter hibernation. I am having cravings for stew and biscuits. I'm baking banana bread and cookies. The dogs are begging for second dinner and the chickens race toward anyone who seems to be flinging anything (including dog toys) with what seems to be little chicken dreams of bread crusts and apple cores in their tiny feathered heads.

The bees are going at it a different way. They have no power to improve the flying weather and they cannot make flowers bloom in the fall. What they can do to increase their share of winter stores is reduce their numbers. So (I imagine with the Red Queen's, of Alice in Wonderland, voice) off with the drones!

Down at the hive there was much commotion as the worker bees persistently showed the drones the door, and the drones persistently returned, unable to understand why they are no longer being served as they had all their short lives. They have, it seems, become unnecessary.

A worker bee chases out a large drone on the far left
and the other bees on the right seem to be having a meeting

In a hive society where what you have stored by now is all you have for the winter, it makes no sense to continue feeding and caring for drones who can in no way help with the tasks at hand. Drones have no pollen sacks, no ability to forage and no stinger with which to defend the nest or themselves.

Hatching, amazingly, from unfertilized eggs, drones are simply for mating. A genetic delivery system to send out the queen's genes to other hives who have new queens. When the season cools, several hundred drones are banished from the hive to become food for the hornets and wasps who hover below the entrance.

A "yellow jacket" hovers to pick off a drone.

In the full circle of the world of insects, the drones become winter food for the other insects who live nearby.


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