Honeybee drones do not forage or participate in colony maintenance or defence. Their only known function is in mating with virgin queens. Virgin queens mate with between 6 to 17 drones during a mating flight. However, each drone mates only once and then dies shortly thereafter (Fig. 1). Published research about drones is far less extensive than about either worker or queen bees because drones do not contribute to brood production, pollination or honey production. However, studies of drones could aid in breeding programmes by improving the efficiency and quality of mating and could help in the control of diseases that are spread between commercial apiaries by drones.