Newly emerged virgin honey bee queens become inseminated in flight by multiple male honey bees (drones) in elevated regions called Drone Congregation Areas (DCAs). These DCAs are areas five to 60 meters above ground and 30 to 200 meters in diameter. They can persist in the same place for dozens of years – longer than the life of any queen (a couple years) and much longer than the life of a drone (21-32 days!). This raises a question: How do queens and drones know where the DCA is year after year. Since drones and queens arrive at DCAs from multiple colonies, it is believed that DCAs exist so that queens can maximize the genetic diversity in their colony. Somehow, they all know where to go to link up.
To try to solve this mystery, DCA research has traditionally used helium balloons dangling pheromone lures to locate DCAs. It is slow and tedious work. In 2015, I wrote about multirotor pilots encountering DCAs in a blog post called “Drones Make Love Not War” (http://www.beehacker.com/wp/?p=1243). In that posting, I linked to several YouTube videos showing ‘angry’ bees that I pointed out were really just horny bees.
My good friend and UGA Master Beekeeper Julia Mahood has created a website (http://mapmydca.com/) for multirotor pilots to report DCAs they encounter. If you are willing to search for DCAs, she provides plenty of information to get you started. If you are not a multirotor pilot, you can help our research by forwarding this post to someone who is a multirotor pilot.
Thanks for your support.