Carnica (Carniolan) Bees

Carnica (Carniolan) bees history

The Carniolan (Carnica) honey bee is the subspecies of the Western honey bee that has naturalized and adapted to the Kočevje (Gottschee) sub-region of Carniola (Slovenia), the southern part of the Austrian Alps, Dinarides region, southern Pannonian plain and the northern Balkans. These bees are known as Carniolans, or “Carnies” for short, in English. At present this subspecies is the second most popular among beekeepers (after the Italian bee). Carniolan bees are dark with brown spots or bands on their abdomen. They’re slightly smaller than other races of bees, but that doesn’t seem to correlate to their ability to forage and bring pollen and nectar stores back to the hive.

Carniolan (Carnica) bees can also come from the Austrian Alps, Yugoslavia, and Danube Valley regions. They can be found across much of Eastern Europe including Hungary, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

It is favored among beekeepers for several reasons, not the least being 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. It meets periods of high nectar with high worker populations and consequently stores large quantities of honey and pollen during those periods. They are resistant to some diseases and parasites that can debilitate hives of other subspecies.

Carnica (Carniolan) bees / queens characteristics

  • Carniolan (Carnica) bees are incredibly gentle and easy to work with. Due to their region of origin, they are more likely to forage on cold, wet days than other types of bees and rank among the best for overwintering
  • Considered to be gentle and non-aggressive which makes the work easy for the beekeeper
  • Can be kept in populated areas
  • Sense of orientation considered better than the other honey bees
  • Less drifting of bees from one hive to another
  • Fast rhythm of brood production and then brood rearing reduction when available forage decreases
  • Workers live up to 12% longer than other breeds
  • Honey stores are conserved
  • Low use of propolis

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