Sun position and a colony's queen state as possible factors influencing the orientation and drift of drone honeybees (Apis mellifera L.).
R. W. Currie And S. C. Jay
Drones were marked with individually numbered tags and introduced into pairs of hives that were spaced I m apart facing N, S, E and W. The drifting of four age groups of drones (5-10, 10-15, 15-20 and 20-25 days old) was studied in queenright colonies, queenless colonies and in colonies with virgin queens. The proportion of drones that drifted between pairs of hives varied according to the colony's queen state and the direction that the hives faced. In pairs of hives that faced east or west, drifting between queenless colonies did not differ significantly from that in colonies with virgin queens, but was higher than in queenright colonies. In pairs of hives that faced north or south, the amount of drifting did not vary with the colony's state. The direction towards which drift was greater depended on the direction that the pairs of hives faced. In pairs that faced north or south, a higher proportion of drones tended to drift towards the west than the east, while in pairs that faced east or west a higher proportion of drones tended to drift towards the south than the north. However, these differences were significant only in south- and east-facing pairs. The directional trends varied only slightly in colonies with different queen states and in drones of different age groups between 5-25 days old. The directions that drones drifted were correlated with the position and apparent movement of the sun.