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Characteristics of Races of Honeybees

Italian Bees

  • Probably the most common race of honeybees in this area.
  • Colonies are usually large and winter well.
  • Very good honey producers.
  • Usually gentle and non-aggressive.
  • Swarming instinct is not especially strong.
  • Minimum propolis.
  • Keep a clean hive and are quick to get rid of the wax moth.
  • Queens lay all through the summer, so a large amount of stores are used for brood rearing.
  • Italian bees have a strong tendency to rob.
  • Yellow coloring with bands on the abdomen.

Caucasian Bees

  • Very gentle bees.
  • Do not swarm excessively.
  • Brood buildup is later in the spring.
  • A good honey producer, not exceptional.
  • Caucasians produce and use a good deal of propolis.
  • Brown in color.

Carniolan Bees

  • A very gentle race of bees.
  • Probably the best wintering bees.
  • Little use of propolis.
  • Builds up very rapidly in the spring.
  • Summer brood rearing depends on pollen and nectar flow.
  • Usually not inclined to rob.
  • These bees tend to swarm more. Probably due to rapid spring build up.
  • Not as productive as Italians.

Buckfast Bees

  • Developed by brother Adam at Buckfast Abbey, Devon, England.
  • Very rapid spring build up.
  • Very gentle bees.
  • Low tendency to swarm.
  • Low consumption of winter stores.
  • Well adapted to areas with damp cold winters.
  • Excellent honey producers.
  • Inclined to rob.