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A Multitude Of Drones Needed


Instinct teaches the bee to make the matters left to them as nearly
_sure_ as possible. When they want one queen, they raise half a dozen.
If one drone or only half a dozen were reared, the chances of the queen
meeting one in the air would be very much reduced. But when a thousand
are in the air instead of one, the chances are a thousand times
multiplied. If a stock casts a swarm, there is a young queen to be
impregnated, and be got safely back, or the stock is lost. Every time
she leaves, there is a chance of her being lost, (one in fifteen). If
the number of drones was any less than it is, the queen would have to
repeat her excursions in proportion, before successful. As it is, some
have to leave several times. The chances and consequences are so great,
that on the whole no doubt but it is better to rear a thousand
unnecessarily, than to lack one just in time of need. Therefore let us
endeavor to be content with the present arrangement, inasmuch as we
could not better it, and probably had we been consulted, would have so
fixed "the thing, that it would not go at all."

But what is the use of the drones in hives that do not swarm, and do
not intend it, situated in a large room or very large hives? Such
circumstances seldom produce swarms, yet as regular as the return of
summer, a brood of drones appear. What are they for? Suppose the old
queen in such hive dies, leaving eggs or young larvae, and a young queen
is reared to supply her place. How is she to be impregnated without the
drones? Perhaps they are taught that whenever they can afford it, they
should have some on hand to be ready for an emergency. I have already
said when bees are numerous, and honey abundant, they never fail to
provide them. I once put a swarm in a glass hive. The queen was a
cripple, having lost one of her posterior legs; in two months after she
was replaced by one young and perfect. Here was an instance of drones
being needed, when no intention of swarming was indicated; the hive was
but little more than half full.

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