Choosing the Right Bees.


Choosing the Right Bees.

    The honey bee is by far the most interesting and important insect known to man. They are different from other stinging insects like the wasp, hornet, yellow jacket and even the bumble bee. The honey bee is known for its ability to produce honey and for pollination. In fact, it is the only insect that produces a substance that can be eaten by man. Honey is unique because of its medicinal properties and its ability to go for long periods of time without spoiling. Yet, the real benefit of the honey bee is the pollination. It is believed that between 50 to 80 percent of the worlds food is pollinated by honey bees. And while the honey bee is on the decline, a major push is being made to educate and teach beekeepers how to properly maintain them. Like other species of insects, the honey bee comes in different breeds and is known to be able to adapt to different regions of the world.


Choosing a Breed

   While all honey bees look very similar to the average person, beekeepers are aware that each breed of bees are made up of different genetic traits. Even though different breeds can possess the same traits, it’s normally the combination of specific traits that characterize the type of bee that a beekeeper desires. Some of the traits that are looked for are brood rearing, temperament, honey production, disease and mite resistant and their ability to weather the winter. It is up to each individual beekeeper to determine the type of bees they will raise. Below is a list of commonly desired bees and the advantages and disadvantages of each.


Italian Bee

  The Italian honey bee is a subspecies of the Apis mellifera ligustica and are the most widely distributed breed of honey bees in North America. They are able to adapt to a different range of climates, these bees are by far the beekeepers choice because of their gentleness and low swarm tendency. They normally build up rapidly producing a large colonies of bees as well as a large honey production. Their one disadvantage is that they go into the winter with a large colony requiring a large amount of winter food store and they tend to drift from their hive to another.


Carniolan Bee

  Carniolan honey bees are a subspecies of the Apis mellifera carnica and are the second most widely distributed breed of honey bees in North America. While this bee is a native of the Southern European countries, they are a favored bee for a lot of beekeepers because of their ability to rapidly increase the colony and are easy to work with. The disadvantages of these bees are that they are prone to swarm when overcrowded and their inability to survive in hot weather.


Caucasian Bee

  The Caucasian honey bees are a subspecies of the Apis mellifera caucasia and originated in Eastern Europe near the Caucasian mountains by the Black Sea. These bees are normally gentle and build up strong colonies that adapt to harsh weather conditions. The disadvantages of these bees are that they use a lot of propolis sometimes making it difficult to manage a hive. They too tend to drift from hive to hive and will rob smaller colonies. They are more susceptibility to nosema which means that they don’t over-winter well.


Buckfast Bee

  The Buckfast honey bee is bred in Germany and is known as the “Super Bee” because it is bred with the traits that most beekeepers desire. This is a somewhat gentle bee that produces lots of honey, is disease resistant and winters very well. The disadvantage of this bee is that it can be aggressive, tends to rob other hives, and sometimes abscond (leave).


Russian Bee

    The Russian honeybee is a native of Russia and is a very hardy bee that is sought after because of their trait to resist various kinds of parasitic mites. These bees are also gentle with a high capability to over-winter well. However, they tend to build up slow, but have a higher nectar haul per bee than other breeds, which makes them a good honey producer. The disadvantages are they tend to build more queen cells increasing the chance of swarming and as they are bred with other breeds of bees they tend to lose their productivity.

7 Responses

  1. Kurt Langlois

    Hello, I recently picked up 3 nucs from you guys and was curious what breed of bees they are, I thought you may have said the buck fast German bee but not sure. So far so good. Also how long do you recommend feeding them then stacking another box.

    • Alan Woods

      The bees we sold this year are a German breed call Carnica which is a breed of Carnelian. However, this is a bigger, harder bee that has adapted very well to this weather. And yes I recommend feeding to fill the frames with wax.

  2. Noe Aguiniga

    I have noticed that two of my hives have very large Queens they are Hawaiian I got this from Alan last year, I did a hive inspection today.
    Lots of pollen, a good amount of honey so I won’t be feeding these. One had nine full frames of brood and the other one ten, both have lots of pollen.
    I installed honey suppers one each, hopefully is not to early for that.

    • Alan Woods

      These hives are ready for the summer, however you will need to ensure that if they get to big that you split them. While no one likes to lose their bees, this is one way to prevent it.

  3. Noe Aguiniga

    Having the Africanized bee roaming the southern states, Are California Queen Bees safe to bring to the pacific northwest? is there a danger of crossbreeding of their existing stock when the Queens go out for mating flights can they encounter a drone from such colonies?

    • Alan Woods

      I cannot really say if this is the case or not nor do I want to frighten anyone with bees from California. However, I will say if anyone is experiencing extremely aggressive bees your best bet is to re-queen the hive. Once you re-queen the temperament of your hive should change drastically after awhile.

  4. Noe Aguiniga

    I did away with the Queen of the most aggressive hive and let the Bees re-queen themselves after the new Queen emerged and started laying, the hive is a lot calmer, I have also discontinued weekly hive inspections to by-weekly inspections. and as long as I see eggs, larvae, brood, pollen and nectar on the brood box. then the inspection is done, I don’t see a need to disturb the hive any further. However once a month i will go to the bottom brood box to make sure is getting used as well, the queen sometimes will not lay as much as she does on the second brood box.