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Jen

Looking for drone larvae

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Jen

I am a local wildlife veterinarian looking for alternative, more nutrient-rich options to feeding mealworms to insectivorous birds or bats. A fellow rehabilitator told me that most of our insect-eating animals LOVE drone larvae, which are great nutrition for them. I was told that these drone larvae, which are more heavily predisposed to getting mites, are sometimes removed to help fight mite infestations. If anyone in the area does this and is interested in selling these larvae (or better yet donating to a tax-deductible organization), please let me know.

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Bret Fisher

Hello, Jen. Yes, my chickens do love it when I give them a section of drone comb full of larvae that I have cut out, and I think there are many of us who do occasionally remove a frame of capped drone brood as part of our varroa management plan. You may already know that the protein-rich bee larvae are the primary reason bears break into bee hives. The next time I cut out a section or two I'd be happy to donate it, but it may be quite some time before I reach that point again this year, and even then it will likely only be a frame* or two at most. Honey bees manage their drone populations in order to maximize the mating chances of virgin queen bees, which is most typically in the spring and early summer during prime swarm season.

Now that we're in the midst of a very hot summer drone rearing has mostly ceased in my hives. The comb that previously housed drone larvae has now mostly been filled with nectar and is being used as food storage. Around Halloween in our area the bees will begin to evict the drones from the colonies to conserve resources for the coming winter. I've read that drones eat about three times as much as the average worker bee.

*The medium size frames I use in my hives measure approximately 6 inches high by 19 inches wide. I've borrowed a photo from another of our members that shows about what this would look like.

drone frame.jpg

You might also consider raising your own population of wax worms:
http://www.herpcenter.com/insect-care-sheets/waxworms-care-sheet/

Pages 3 through 6 of the attached PSU Beekeeping Basics are helpful in understanding the honey bee life cycle. Beekeeping Basics - PSU.pdf

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Jen

Thank you, Bret, for the info and the reply. I understand that it might be awhile, but whenever you have any to donate, please contact me at drjen@blueridgewildlifectr.org or call our center (Blue Ridge Wildlife Center) at 540-837-9000. Thanks!

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