All honey bees look alike. You think. But all honey bees aren’t the same. Facts.
Just like other insects and animals that inhabit Mother Nature, honeybees also differ from each other based on some factors. Different honey bees have different traits like temperament, productivity, disease resistance, and so on. The environment they live in too brings about a huge difference to these insects.
Bee experts in conjunction with beekeepers have worked tirelessly to gain some useful information that has helped them categorize honey bees into different genetic stocks.
Get ready as we explore the various types of honey bees that give us honey the the manuka honey, a natural healer, and sweetener (sometimes a painful stinger)…
Different types of Honey Bees:
Here, we’ll focus on six main classes of bees and their unique characteristics:
1. Italian Honeybee
As the name suggest, this honeybee traces its rootsin Italy- mainly in the Southern Alps and Northern parts of Sicily. Their relative are also said to have survived the last Ice Age.
The bee falls under the subspecies category of the Apis mellifera ligustica. Regarding appearance, they’re extremely light colored (with light leather hue and lemon yellow) – making them aesthetically appealing.
The Italian honeybee is capable of adapting to nearly all kinds of climates- from the subtropical to cool temperatures. This makes it one of the highly distributed honeybees to all the corners of the earth.
However, it’s important to note the bee tends to show less productivity in areas with humid tropical climate.
Because it exhibits an extended brood rearing period, its hive can be used for longer.
2. Russian Honeybee
Next on our list is the Russian bee that originated from the Primorsky Krai region in Russia.
One of the top characteristics of these bees is their resistance to various parasitic mites which are notorious for affecting the brooding as well as honey production.
Beekeepers usually bred the Russian honeybee with other bees to produce bees that have stronger resistance to the mites. However, it has been noted that the breeding process decreases their overall productivity.
3. Carniolan Honeybee
The Carniolan honeybee also rank among the widely sued bees today.
They’re a subspecies of the western honeybees (Apis mellifera carnica). And they’re native to these regions: Slovenia, Southern parts of Austria, some parts of Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Herzegovina, Romania, and Serbia.
One of the main reason why these bees are highly popular stems from the fact that they show a remarkable rise in population.
Besides, they’re safer to work with (less temperamental), meaning you’ll only require little smoke and less protective clothing when working with them.
They are also good builders of quality wax combs that can be used to manufacturers different products- like candles, soaps, cosmetics, etc.
4. Caucasian Honeybee
This race of honeybees is native to the regions near Eastern Europe, mainly near the Caspian Sea. It also used to be popular in the US, though it has experienced a sharp population define over the decades.
One of the Caucasian bee’s most notable characteristics is their extremely long tongue. They enable them to efficiently forage for nectar, even from flowers that other bees might not have access to.
They’re moderately colored bees. And like the carniolans, they’re also extremely docile- meaning you don’t have to put on lots of protective clothing and a lot of smoke to get them to cooperate.
The common problems beekeepers have with these bees is that they use a lot of gum to hold their hives, which translates to difficult manipulations.
Also, they have a slow spring buildup, meaning they don’t generate large honey crops like most honey bees.
5. Buckfast Honeybee
The human race, led by curiosity, has also discovered ways to manipulate the existing bee stocks to fit their needs. And that has resulted in the introduction of the Buckfast honeybee.
Let me give you a story of how this came to be:
Around the 1920s, colonies of the honeybees in the British Isles were wiped out by acarine disease (this is now believed to have been the endoparasitic mite: Acarapis woodi). Following this, Brother Adams, a monk based at Buckfast Abby, Devon, England, was given a new task. And that involved coming up with a new bee stock that endures the deadly disease should it reappear.
He traveled to many places in the word, interviewing different bee experts and beekeepers. Armed with the information he has gathered, he created Buckfast honey bee- mainly from the Italian bees- that could withstand the British Isles wet climate while producing quality honey crops and showing good housecleaning behavior that kept off the deadly disease.
The bees are still bred up to now.
They’re excellent honey producers and are less fierce. Above all, they build up quickly (though they tend to brood at a slower rate in winter).
6. Africanized Honeybee
Finally, we have the Africanized honeybees that belong to the race of Apis mellifera, which is not domesticated.
These bees are said to have been accidentally released in Brazil. Since then, they’ve interbred with other races, resulting in the Africanized honeybee. This bee is mainly found in parts of Central and South America, and even in the southern regions of the United States.
Unlike the gentler European bee, these bees show unusual behavior like intensive brood rearing, hostility, usurpation, and frequent swarmings.
That’s it for the types of honey bees that exist on the planet. These stocks include the Italian bee, Russian bee, carniolans, Caucasian stock, Buckfast bees, and the Africanized honeybee.
Each type of bee have a number of characteristics and behaviors that differentiate it from the others.
Which type of honeybees would you like to keep?