FACT 20 – HONEY BEE DRONES  Colonies allowed to mate naturally participate in “Drone Congregations” that look like a swarm of bees overhead at approximately 50 feet. A congregation may meet over a large mating yard or in an open area where two tree rows meet. Generally, drones only fly in favorable weather conditions: low winds, no rain and temperature at or higher than 65*F.

dronesInitially, drones step out onto the landing board to clean their antennae and eyes before their first orientation flights. After take-off, drones produce a characteristically low, loud buzzing sound which is different from the higher pitch produced by smaller female foraging bees.

Ideally a queen mates with 15-20 drones from several hives. When a virgin queen takes flight she is light weight with genuine stamina that enables her to fly 2-3 miles at a height of 100-140 feet; all the while she is releasing a strong pheromone trail that alerts the drones to her location. Only strong, healthy drones are capable of flying and mating at that height and pace. Its natures crowning rule: Survival of the fittest for diversity of the gene pool.

NOTE: The current American trend for Queen Raising workshops relies on artificial insemination of Honeybee queens; thus replacing natural selection with the opinions of beekeepers, pros and amateurs. Gotta wonder about that formula…

Click on the video link to hear and see a Drone Congregation.

RECIPE 20 – PAIN D’ESPICE an original old fashion French cake as adapted from the Larousse Gastronomique, an Pain D'Espice 2encyclopedia of gastronomy published in 1938.

INGREDIENTS: 1 lb (16 oz) of honey / 1 lb flour (white, rye or a preferably a mixture) / 4 oz superfine granulated sugar / 2 tsp cream of tartar / 1 tsp baking soda / 2 tsp aniseed / a pinch of cinnamon and cloves / grated zest of a lemon / 2 tbsp whole milk / extra sugar

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven 375*F

Heat the honey to a boiling point, then skim it and mix it into the sifted flour. Cover and leave standing for at least an hour to possibly a day. Knead in the sugar, baking agents and flavorings. Put in a buttered 23 cm-9 inch square cake tin. Bake for about 30 minutes. Then make syrup by mixing cold milk with as much sugar as it takes to become a syrupy liquid. Brush this over the hot cake, allow the cake to cool.

SOURCE: The Hive: The Story of Honeybee and Us by Bee Wilson, 2004, Thomas Dunne Books


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