albina carnica

The Carniolan Honey Bee. Characteristics and recommendations

This post is also available in: Spanish

We continue our mini-series on the subject of the different bee races with one of the most widely used strains: the Carniolan Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera Carnica).

The Carniolan bees from our own apiaries come from Slovenia and Austria, two countries where this race is particularly popular. Actually, in Central Europe and certain parts of America, the Carniolan bee gained a privileged reputation for its unique qualities, many beekeepers going as far as calling it the best honey bee there is.

Characteristics of the Carniolan honey bee

The most acclaimed traits of the Carniolan bee are its calm and docile behavior on the comb, the sense of orientation is arguably the best of any race, their brood is highly resistant to diseases and parasites, reduced consumption over winter, the length of the tongue (the second longest after the Caucasian honey bee), explosive spring buildup, they are less prone to robbing and spreading diseases in other colonies, they don’t use excessive amounts of propolis.

Some of these qualities make the Carniolan honey bee one of the most economically viable races. But some of them can also be looked at as downsides. For example their ability to adjust the worker population to nectar/polen availability and cut off brood production when necessary.

In other words, a Carniolan queen will reduce the brood production when nectar and polen are scarce. Normally, this would be a positive characteristic, but there can be situations where it hinders the growth of the colony and this can negatively affect the next harvest.

In order to avoid this type of scenario, the beekeeper must intervene with additional sugar syrup and protein.

Another characteristic of the Carniolan bee that can be both a positive trait and a drawback is their explosive spring buildup. This can lead to swarming if the population is overcrowded and the weather doesn’t allow an early spring harvest to begin.

A more rigorous control of the population is advised if this situation. However, the excellent selection that was carried out through the years has considerably reduced the swarming instinct of the Carniolan bee.

As a conclusion, the Carniolan bee is a blend of some of the most important qualities that a bee can have. There are of course some cons, but the positive characteristics far outweigh the negative ones. Brother Adam even called the Carniolan bee the key that unlocks the hidden potential of other strains.

The Carniolan queen bees used in our own apiaries for reproduction are VSH (Varroa Sensitive Hygiene) compliant and have received the award for the most productive line of bees in Slovenia (2013). This only goes to show that a continuous and adequate selection program leads to excellent results.

Below you’ll find all the links to the articles from this mini-series:


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