How I plan to use a Queen Isolation Cage to hold drones after they emerge, and then count drones without releasing them to other colonies -
The queen bee lays an unfertilized egg in a drone cell.
I plan to allow the queen to lay up the entire drone frame with no cage around the deep frame.
The egg hatches into a larva after three days.
Allow the nurse bees to continue to attend the drone larvae while they develop.
Observe and document when the drones are becoming capped.
The larva is fed by worker bees for six days and then the larva spins a cocoon and enters the pupal stage.
At this stage, remove the queen from the frame if she is still on it, and place the entire drone frame inside the deep frame Queen Isolation Cage.
The drone emerges from the pupa as an adult after 24 days, and the queen isolation cage keeps the drones from spreading through the colony, and also cannot leave the hive.
Leave young drones inside the isolation cage for four days so mites have their opportunity to wander into the cage and lodge themselves on the bodies of the young drones. Drones continue to emerge over several days so the young drone pheromone should be strong inside the cage.
OPTIONS: You can use CO2 as a non-lethal method of knocking out the drones and varroa mites momentarily. This will permit accurate visual evaluation of the drones, and provides an opportunity to remove mites with tweezers.
OR, you can put the entire frame, still in the isolation cage, inside a nucleus hive and treat them with Oxalic Acid Vaporization. Make sure to have a removable tray or board underneath the cage so you can count the mites as they drop. Expect most mites to drop within 48 hours.
The drone lives for an average of 55 days, but I do not know how long a drone can survive without being fed by nurse bees.
If drones are not present in the hive, then varroa mites will be found most likely on the bodies of nurse bees again. This occurs during periods of dearth, and of course, at the end of the productive year when drones are cast out.
Drones are only produced in large numbers during the spring and summer, when there is a need for them to mate with new queen bees. In the fall, when the queen bee has stopped laying eggs, the drones are no longer needed and are expelled from the hive. They will either die of starvation or be killed by the worker bees.
This may be why some beekeepers see a sudden rise in varroa on nurse bees during late-season varroa counts. They may migrate from young drones to nurse bees as the drones age.
This would include the drones as a means of varroa transportation and spread from colony to colony when they are welcomed into various honey bee colonies during periods of high reproduction.
Drones are an important part of the honey bee colony, but they have a very short lifespan.
I think we can use this varroa behavior to our advantage as beekeepers. Removing caged drones while permitting other drones to still serve as sources of genetic diversity. You don't have to remove all of the drones to make a difference.
Book mark this page. When I make my observations, I will link the videos here.
GET YOUR OWN ISOLATION CAGE HERE - I do not have an affiliate agreement with BetterBee. But I would appreciate it if you told them where you heard about the cage.
Just an experiment. By Frederick J. Dunn "The Way To Bee"