Fall drone removal

Signs or indications

Fall drone discharge at the hive entrance; will often include drone brood.


Bee colonies expel drones in the fall as temperatures cool and brood nests compact. Timing varies between colonies and seasons. A few colonies (often those with extensive amounts of brood, those with a late-season queen event, or those that are queenless) may kick out only a portion of their drones. Drone expulsion by colonies in southern regions is often prolonged; drone removal or eviction may not be as obvious. Expulsions may include drone brood. 

Note: when the burr combburr comb:
comb built between frames, between boxes, or in spaces where the bee space is not maintained. Often used to rear drones, as a ladder to go to another hive box, or to fill in space that is greater than bee space.
between boxes is broken and drone brood cells disrupted, the drone brood is quickly thrown out by the bees as they return to normal following beekeeper inspection. Such hive cleaning is normal.

Most closely resembles

May be confused with fighting (guard behavior) at the entrances, a pesticide kill, or even with orientation flights. Distinguish by time of year, numbers of dead and still living drones at colony entrance and on ground in front of entrance, and preponderance of drones being discharged.


Sartell J. 2017. Drones: A Sign of a Healthy Hive. Keeping Backyard Bees. Accessed 2023. https://www.keepingbackyardbees.com/drones-a-sign-of-a-healthy-hive/

Lee K. 2013. Why your drones are getting the boot. BeeInformed. Accessed 2023. https://beeinformed.org/2013/11/08/why-your-drones-are-getting-the-boot/

Burns D and Burns S. n.d. Bees In The Fall. HoneyBeesOnline.com. Accessed 2023. https://www.honeybeesonline.com/bees-in-the-fall/

“Honey bee drone expulsion”. YouTube, uploaded by Doug Brown, 10 September 2012. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8Ir-i-jc1w

Perfect Bee Blog. 2019. The role of the Drone Bee. Perfect Bee. Accessed 2023. https://www.perfectbee.com/learn-about-bees/the-life-of-bees/role-of-the-drone-bee

 Drones kicked out of fall colony; photo by The BeeMD photo collection
Drones kicked out of fall colony; photo by The BeeMD photo collection
 Flying drone; photo by Queen Bee Farm California
Flying drone; photo by Queen Bee Farm California