A week ago when I made my sugar rounds I noticed maybe 30-50 bees swarming anxiously about the entrance. At first I was afraid there was some kind of robbing taking place, since a few of the bees were yellow jackets. But on closer inspection I realized that aside from the few foreign visitors, the panicky bees were all drones who were desperately trying to gain entrance to the hive, where their sisters had suddenly turned against them.
Today I discovered a rather large pile of dead bees, most of them drones just off to the side of my hive stand. The poor boys must have formed their own tiny cluster and perished in the night, having been evicted. Such is the life of a fall drone. The ladies know they eat a lot--they're quite a bit larger after all, and since they do so little work its hardly worth feeding them all winter. Out they go. Its the way of things, but oh what a sad thing to find.
My ladies however were thrilled to have the syrup and I noticed a few brave souls still returning with pollen baskets full, and lots on tiny new bees gathered about the feeder. These girls are the bees who may actually live to see spring. I hope they eat up. Winter is a hard time of year to be a bee.
*At least according to The Storey Guide to Backyard Bee Keeping