The Drone is a sting less male bee, shorter than the queen but larger than the worker bee. Drones are easily recognisable with their fat stumpy bodies and big eyes, one is shown in the middle of the photo.
Drones are unable to collect food and the bees feed them as their mouth pieces are undeveloped. They are sexually mature when they are 12-14 days old, their sole job is to mate with a queen thereby keeping the species going. They mate in drone congregation areas and die immediately after.
During autumn the worker bees drive the drones out to die as they are a burden during the winter months to feed when food is in short supply. Their wings and legs maybe torn off or sometimes they are stung by the workers.
The colony will again start rearing drones in the spring to coincide with swarming when a virgin queen will need to mate. Although the drone is highly specialised to one function, if they are removed from the colony during brood raising periods, these colonies will not do as well as those with a nature proportion of drones. There can be a few thousand drones per hive and their life duration is about 3 months.