Carniolan Honey Bee

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Other common names: European Honey Bee; Western Honey Bee; Common Honey Bee

Scientific name: Apis mellifera carnica

The basics:
The Carniolan Honey Bee (Apis mellifera carnica), is a subspecies of the European Honey Bee (Apis mellifera). The European Honey Bee is one of seven recognized species of honey bee, and is the most commonly domesticated species of honey bee (the other being the Asian Honey Bee (Apis cerana)). Also see listings for other types of European Honey Bee: Buckfast Bee; European Dark Bee; Italian Honey Bee.

The European Honey Bee is believed to have originated in eastern tropical Africa and spread from there to Northern Europe and eastwards into Asia. There are many subspecies which have adapted to local geographic and climatic environments. The Carniolan honey bee is native to Slovenia and to some regions of the former Yugoslavia, southern Austria, and parts of Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. The Carniolan Honey Bee is the second most popular among beekeepers, after the Italian Honey Bee.

The Carniolan Honey Bee is popular with beekeepers for several reasons, including its ability to defend itself successfully against insect pests while at the same time being extremely gentle in its behavior toward beekeepers. These bees are particularly adept at adjusting worker population to nectar availability. It relies on these rapid adjustments of population levels to rapidly expand worker bee populations after nectar becomes available in the spring, and, again, to rapidly cut off brood production when nectar ceases to be available in quantity.

Appearance / health:
Carniolan honey bees are about the same size as the Italian honey bee race, but they are physically distinguished by their generally dusky brown-grey color that is relieved by stripes of a subdued lighter brown color. Their chitin is dark, but it is possible to find lighter colored or brown colored rings and dots on their bodies. They are also known as the "grey bee".

Carniolan bees are nearly as big and long as the Western European black bees, though their abdomens are much slimmer. Furthermore, the Carniolan bee has a very long tongue (6.5 to 6.7 mm, which is very well adapted for clover), a very high elbow joint and very short hair.

Behavior / temperament:
All honey bees live in colonies where the worker bees will sting intruders as a form of defense, and alarmed bees will release a pheromone that stimulates the attack response in other bees. Some beekeepers believe that the more stings a beekeeper receives, the less irritation each causes, and they consider it important for safety of the beekeeper to be stung a few times a season. Beekeepers have high levels of antibodies (mainly IgG) reacting to the major antigen of bee venom, phospholipase A2 (PLA). Antibodies correlate with the frequency of bee stings.

Beekeeping (or apiculture, from Latin apis, bee) is the maintenance of honey bee colonies, commonly in hives, by humans. A beekeeper (or apiarist) keeps bees in order to collect honey and beeswax, to pollinate crops, or to produce bees for sale to other beekeepers. A location where bees are kept is called an apiary or "bee yard". A domesticated bee colony is normally housed in a rectangular hive body, within which eight to ten parallel frames house the vertical plates of honeycomb which contain the eggs, larvae, pupae and food for the colony.

Beekeepers typically use movable frame hives. Straw skeps, bee gums, and unframed box hives are now unlawful in most US states, as the comb and brood cannot be inspected for diseases. However, straw skeps are still used for collecting swarms by hobbyists in the UK, before moving them into standard hives.


harsher winter zones, colder climates, comb honey, good genetic defenses, cooler temperatures


Carniolan populations, new beekeeper, smaller numbers, hyper defensive mode


hardworking bees

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