Colonies of honeybees must grow to have 4,000 bees before they begin to produce drone cells, according to research recently published by a team of scientists at Cornell University.

This swarm colony will need to grow to at least 4,000 bees before it makes any drone cells.

This swarm colony will need to grow to at least 4,000 bees before it makes any drone cells.

Making drone cells is the first step in the long-term reproductive cycle of honeybees.

But small hives have other survival concerns before they can get to this. They must generate comb for the queen to lay her eggs and for the workers to store pollen and nectar. They must seal the open spaces in the hive. They must organize foraging and storage.

So, when can they start creating drones — giving back, as they say, to the great bee community?

That’s the question that Michael Smith and his colleague at Cornell wanted to answer, and after a good deal of study, they came up with 4,000 as the magic number. The question is an important because it tells us something about the viability of bee colonies.

You can read a summary of the research, which has been published in the journal Naturwissenschaften – The Science of Nature, on this webpage.

 

Key words: honeybees, colonies of honeybees, 4,000 bees, drones, drone cells, Cornell University, Michael Smith, Naturwissenschaften – The Science of Nature

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