We had another DARG session at East Devon BKA’s apiary close to Axminster. This time the theme was drone congregation areas and how to find them. There were 14 of us there at the peak with some coming and going. Apprentice Sarah had brought her Mother along as she’s past her prime and Sarah usually looks after her on Sundays, which means she often misses DARG sessions so I suggested that she bring her along as she might be entertained by oldies playing with balloons.
As usual, the session started off socially as we drank coffee and nattered over our picnic lunches. Then there was a powerpoint and discussion on what’s known and not known about drone congregation areas which is generally on a south facing slope. This may vary considerably in mountainous areas or flat fenland and there’s a lot we don’t know except that bees do nothing invariably.
There were balloons and helium gas available, also fishing rods, bamboo canes and extending poles to which we could attach fake queens anointed with the replica of the queen pheromone: 9ODA. Unfortunately the weather was cool and windy so we didn’t try the balloons but dabbled small, queen sized, sticks in 9ODA and tied them with fishing line to long poles and went out close to the BKA’s apiary as shown above.
Unfortunately, the bait attracted no drones at all. Glyn Davies and I walked up to the apiary and looked at the hives, a score or so. Although there were plenty of workers flying, the only drone to be seen was pottering around on foot close to an entrance.
Clearly we had chosen a bad day for attracting drones so we gave up. Some of us (me included) took home an imitation queen dowsed in 9ODA to try in our own areas when conditions are more favourable. It’s thought that the pheromone is persistent but I put mine in an air tight container in the fridge to prolong it.