Death of a Drone
As previously discussed the life of a drone is one of idyllic pleasure followed by either rejection, starvation or orgasmic death.† They do not work in the hive, gather honey or defend it.† In fact they skip from hive to hive showing no allegiance to one over the other.† The cruel reality of their existence is that to mate, a drone must tear its genitalia from its abdomen and die.† Those who do not live to die in mating will be cast from the hive in the fall to starve.† As bad as that sounds, there are worse roles for a drone.† It could be a pet for my daughters.
This particular drone shared the same special features all drones have: a round barrel shaped body, eyes that touch on the top of his head and a round abdomen missing any hint of a stinger.† He was selected for one property in particular - he wasn't very fast.† Some people freeze drone larvae to kill varroa mites.† Some people cull drones to reduce the burden on the hive.† Some people harvest drones for artificial insemination.† Some people collect them as pets for their daughters.
I fall into the last category.† My girls understand that a drone can't sting.† That it can't bite.†† That it can safely be stroked, picked up, stared at, handled, even squashed (accidentally, of course).† The squeals of delight when I gave my oldest the cage echoed through the neighborhood.† There were three arguments before I could remove my suit.† Two pushing matches before they could get inside.† I should've grabbed another drone.
Bee books will tell you that a drone cannot feed itself.† Those bee books were written about unmotivated drones because Dronely, as the drone was soon named, had no trouble sucking the tiny drop of honey I provided on the screen.† I tucked the cage away under the laptop where it would remain warm and said good night.† The next day I wasn't around to monitor the daughter/drone interaction and things didn't go so well.
Now, let's be clear - when I removed said Dronely from the hive I did not expect him to survive.† Still, I didn't bear any particular malice toward him.† The problems began when my oldest ate her lunch.† She was hungry and therefore, she reasoned, so was Dronely.† Dronely would not eat buckwheat honey.† He preferred mesquite honey, she said.† What a co-incidence - Dronely's taste in honey was identical to my daughters.† Well, mesquite it was.† Now, a drop of honey seems to be fine.† The vast pool of honey provided proved too much for Dronely and he wisely retreated to the other end of the queen cage.
My daughters did not grasp that his crop was smaller than his head, or that the honey in the cage was larger than the drone.† They tilted the cage so that the honey would flow toward Dronely because obviously if he hadn't eaten it all he must not know it was there.† Dronely was quite aware of the ambrosian avalanche rolling toward him and made a break for the opposite end, crawling through the honey on the way.
Now the cage was sticky, so out came Dronely (into a cup, since he could not fly) and the cage was washed and then dried by hand.† Next my girls noticed the drone was still sticky, in a clean cage.† So they got wet q-tips, and swabbed the drone.† Then re-washed the cage.
Unfortunately, the drone was still somewhat sticky, so they concluded that what it really needed was a bath.† It got one.† Then the cage was cleaned again and Dronely was put back in the cage, cold, wet, mangled, and stuffed.† My daughters noticed that he was wet and cold and therefore decided that the appropriate way to fix that was a hair dryer.† Nowhere in a natural hive do you find gale force winds at a 140 degrees, so spare a drop of pity for Dronely.† The screen on the queen cage had come loose.† The girls couldn't bear the thought of him getting out so out came the scotch tape and the cage was quickly "secured".† Fed, swabbed, washed, blown and taped, the drone was put back under the laptop stand where warm air could blow on him.†† Thatís where he was when I came home.
Did I mention the cage was slightly wet?† Tape doesn't stick well to wet cages.† Tape came off.† Screen came up.† Dronely made a break for it as fast as his six legs could carry him.† When the girls came back to "care" for him, He was not there.† A hunt ensued and I was quickly assured that Dronely was found.† They gathered in the kitchen, petting the back of the bee and talking to it, coaxing it back into the cage.
Meanwhile, over at the laptop, I noticed something moving.† Something large and black.† Something that looked quite a bit like Dronely, though somewhat more sticky, wet, and mashed than when last I'd seen him.
"Girls, which bee are you playing with?"† I asked.† The worker bee, who could have stung them at any point was soon released.† I took the cage and went back to get Dronely.† Unfortunately the forces to which he was subjected are never found in nature.† Some will tell you that bees have no ability to reason, no way to see what lies in there future.† I disagree.† As I approached the laptop stand Dronely scurried to the edge and plummeted to his doom.
My daughters were heartbroken.† They insisted on burying him in the queen cage but on the way out I dropped the cage and the dog ate him.† It was a tragic end to a tragic day.
"You killed him," said my oldest to her sister, "by not feeding him."
"No, Mom said not to dry him with the towel, but you did," said the younger back.††
I think he jumped.††
"Dad?"† said my daughter.
"I learned something from Dronely."
"What was that?"
"You should never blow dry a bee."
I guess that will do for now.