As part of a sustainability project at Champlain College, I wrote a flash piece about the final moment of a honeybee drone’s life. It features Evan, a drone bee who’s eager to meet his new queen. Enjoy.
Day of the Drone: Evan’s Final Flight
I looked far into the distance: still nothing. I knew it was time to mate—I’d heard through the hive that she’d beaten out the other four “queens” just yesterday. But even though I was better at spotting her than the worker bees were, I’d seen head nor stinger of the Queen all day.
“We get a fresh, virgin bee now that Queen Bella left with half of our colony. I’m not sure who it will be, but she should be coming around here any minute now,” I buzzed to the other drones as we lazed around on the flowers, sipping nectar. “This hotspot is directly in line of her flight.”
“I hope you’re right,” George buzzed back. “I missed out on Queen Bella, but I’m getting the girl this time!”
“I heard from a worker that it’s going to be Betsy,” buzzed Henry. “She’s a pretty tough virgin.”
“We’ll just have to wait and see, I guess,” I buzzed and flew to another flower, searching for more nectar.
Some of the other drones grew tired waiting for her to show up and flew off, condemning themselves to a life of mooching nectar from the hive. I wondered, though, what would become of them when we reached the colder months and the hive would have to limit their food supply.
“I’ve heard rumors that the drones who do nothing but buzz around and mooch nectar get booted from the colony,” buzzed a nearby drone.
“It’s a good thing we’re the ones mating with the Queen,” I buzzed. “They’ll have to keep us around for her sake.”
A few others fell asleep on the flowers while we waited for her to show up. I couldn’t bring myself to take my large eyes off the horizon. I didn’t want to miss that moment when she’d fly towards us and we’d flutter our wings and meet her in the sky. Of course, I let those drones sleep as long as they wanted to. Our Queen only makes three nuptial (mating) flights and only 20 lucky drones get picked to mate during the course of them. I wanted to be sure I was one of them.
I sipped some more nectar and looked up to see a faint dot appearing in the distance. “She’s here!” I buzzed, and we took flight. With some of the drones still asleep, there were only 26 others I had to compete against for the Queen’s love.
We hovered, 274 feet in the air, as the giant beauty approached us. I watched as she flew: her graceful wings buzzing in the sunlight, her legs bent ever-so-slightly beneath her as she hovered near, seeming to decide who should have the honor of being her first mate.
She flew closer. “My Queen,” I buzzed and moved toward her. “It would be my honor to serve you.”
“You seem like a fine young drone,” she buzzed in return. “Shall we dance?”
We flew together in the open sky as I injected my children into her spermatheca. She was elegant, graceful, everything the hive had always wanted in a Queen, and…
“Ow!” I buzzed as she pulled away.
“Thank you for your service,” she responded, flying back to the cluster of drones to choose her next victim.
I spun around and around, trying to figure out what had gone wrong. When she pulled away, she took with her the organ that I had used to bear her my children. It was gone, and I was spiraling. The flowers and sleeping drones beneath me grew closer and closer until I passed them.
Everything around me started to fade into darkness as I smacked into the dirt, feeling a last sigh of air escape my body.
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