Presence or absence of drones in ‘drone’ dusk mass flights performed by Apis dorsata forager bees
Jerzy Woyke, Jerzy Wilde, Maria Wilde, Muniswamyreddy S Reddy, Narayanappa Nagaraja, Venkatarame Sivaram
Apis dorsata drones perform dusk mass flights (DMF’s) shortly after sunset. Bees performing DMF’s were caught near the nests with insect nets. Presence of drones within captured bees was determined and the colour of worker bees was examined to classify them in age-colour categories. A total of 15,160 individual bees were examined. It was found that in the spring, drones were practically absent in arriving swarms. The percentage of drones, which participated in dusk mass flights, increased to 19% after the colonies stayed at the site for six weeks. A correlation was found between the duration of time the colonies stayed at the place and the percentage of drones, which performed those flights. In autumn, when environmental conditions deteriorated and the colonies migrated, drones were absent practically in all the colonies at the site. Of 4,450 bees captured in autumn, only 2 drones were found during 30 DMF’s performed by 7 colonies. Thus, worker bees performed ‘drone’ DMF’s despite the absence of drones in the colonies. Surprisingly, 90% of bees participating in the ‘drone’ dusk mass flights were foragers contrary to the diurnal periodic mass flights performed by 75% of the young curtain and intermediate bees. Thus, dusk mass flights and diurnal periodic mass flights are performed by different categories of worker bees.
Apis dorsata, drone flights, dusk mass flights, periodic mass flights, colour of bees