Insect stories: Orchid bees

Orchid bees: male lives matter

Entomology Manchester

Male of Euglossa heterosticta approaching flowers (right) and landed on them (left), La Selva Field Station, Costa Rica, June 2018; © M. O’Donnel.

Honeybee males are called drones (see also here). They do not have sting, do not make honey, do not even feed themselves but are rather fed by worker bees; their primary role is to mate with virgin queens. As result, drones have acquired a rather negative reputation among humans. From the ancient times till now, drones have been regularly described as ‘lazy loudmouths’, ‘greedy lozells’ or even ‘virulent weeds, to be eradicated’ (Fig. 1). They “lazily consume the labours of the bee” – said Hesiod in his Works and Days (c. 700BS); so drones were not even seen as the bees. Thomas Moffet (1658) in his Insectorum wrote about drones:

Both God and man disdain that man

Which Drone like in the blue,

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