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Is this just a drone? What's with the body colour?

Hi all,
The “cold” weather had arrived here in Sydney so I would have thought the drones would be all gone but we are seeing a decent number of these guys in the hive. They’re a little bigger and have much darker bodies that the rest of the foragers. Are they just drones? What with the almost black bodies?


Hi @RonM,

Yes. Left one is older though :slightly_smiling_face:

They are both drones Ron. I guess it is genetics that drones are almost black and no yellow bands on their abdomens.
Wow, 26C here today, first day I have put a jumper on. Cairns is looking good as a place to be for the Winter.
Stay safe mate n cheers

Thanks Peter.
How your still avoiding the plague.
Had a feeling that was the answer.
Is Sydney cold enough for drones to be kicked out of the hive in winter, or do they all live happily in our “cold”?
Only 14 degrees today. That’s about as cold as we get.

Nice to wear a full mesh suit today and not instantly break out in a sweat.
Apart from the super markets short of stock I’m going well. Still busy at the apiary and still have a flow on. I need it too, March 2020 I sold over 3 times the amount of honey as March 2019, April was even better. i wonder if this Corona Virus is making people eat healthier…
When I was in the Hawkesbury and Mudgee there was less drones in the hives over Winter, but there was always some there. I would think your hives have a full compliment of drones being 6 to 9 degrees warmer there. My brother on the NSW Southern Highlands has snow during the day yesterday, really glad to be where I am now.

I agree with all of the above posts that they are drones. There are 2 possibilities for the black abdomens. The first is that they are old. All bees lose hairs as they age. The hairs carry most of their yellow colouring - the underlying chitin body is brownish black. The second is that they may be from another hive that has darker bees than yours. Unlike workers and queens, hives tolerate drones visiting from other hives, and even let them take food etc.

Given the time in your season, I would guess that your queen has probably stopped laying drones, and those are just the old survivors that haven’t been thrown out yet.

There is another one. Level of mongrelization of bees we have around. Mine, so called “italian” queen, bought from commercial producer, being itself cordovan, stamps workers of three different colour patterns. Was brooding for whole day after I have seen that it before accepting the inevitable :neutral_face:

Ron is in Coogee, a warm beachside suburb of Sydney. I suspect the hives will produce a few drones right thru the mild Winter there. Curiosity got the the better of me when I started bee keeping about 40 miles inland of Ron and a lot colder I did an inspection in Winter and found some drone cells, maybe less than a dozen, and a few drones on the frames.

It’s amazing how dark those drones are.
Thanks for the replies everyone.