Honey bees

The types of bees

There are about 20000 varieties of bees on Earth, widespread in all areas of the world, except in Antarctica. The sizes of bees vary from 2mm to 4cm. They are mostly black or grey in color. There are different types of bees in Europe.

They differ in color, ways their bodies are built, behavior, ability to gather nectar, pollen, etc. The best-known bee species are: Carniolan bee, Italian bee, Caucasian bee, Dark European bee, Dwarf honey bee, Giant honey bee, and Africanized bee.

  • Carniolan bee (apis mellifica var. carnica Pollm). It belongs to the group of dark-colored bees. Its body is black and is overgrown with gray-silver hairs. Carniolan worker bees possess an extraordinary instinct for gathering food in nature. The queen bee has a great fecundity (2000 eggs per day) and is disease resistant. It was first identified in Slovenia, but it is unique and autochthonous to a wider area. There are multiple subspecies: Alpine, Pannonian and Mediterranean (Adriatic).
  • Italian bee (apis melliffica var. liguistica). It is from the Apennine Peninsula, it is of a yellowish color, accostumed to long-lasting grazing seasons and a mild climate. The Italian bee has a very mild temperament, a vaguely distinct drive to swarm, a powerful development during summer and autumn, and a very high fecundity of the queen bee. A frequent feature of the Italian honey bee is the inclination to trespass into foreign bee hives. That is why it is not popular with all the beekeepers. Due to living in a mild climate, it maintains the brood until the late days of autumn, and it spends the winter in very numerous and strong communities. It is characterized by a weak instinct for gathering propolis and nectar. Nevertheless, it possesses an excellent ability to utilize bad grazing.
  • Caucasian bee (apis mellifica var. caucasica). It originates from the Caucasus in Georgia. Outwardly, it resembles the Carniolan bee. There are two kinds: gray and yellow. Its spring development is low, but its ability to defend against intruders is excellent. The bee itself has a longer proboscis, and is a hard worker in all bee grazing fields, but it is inclined to intruding forign be hives, i.e. to pillaging. It has a weak drive to swarm and quickly adapts to new grazing areas. Nevertheless, it possesses a great ability to gather propolis.
  • Dark European bee (apis mellifica var. mellifica L.). It is mostly kept in Germany. It is corpulently built, with a blunt abdomen, short tongue and is of a dark gray, almost black color. It is resilient and adapted to long and cold winters. Due to this characteristic, it successfully endured in North and South America, and in Siberia, as well. During the season, it develops communities of a medium strength. The development of the community continues long into the autumn, so they spend the winter in strong, numerous societies. Propolis yields are moderate. The bee is resistant to diseases. The quantity of honey they introduce is smaller than that of the Italian and gray Carniolan bees.
  • Dwarf honey bee (apis florea F.). It originates from India. This species is characterized by constructing single honeycombs, usually on a tree trunk. The quality of its honeycombs is that they build cells of different sizes for: worker bee honeycomb, drone-bee honeycomb, the queen-bee honeycomb shaped in the form of an acorn. The community possesses a strong defensive mechanism. They breed by swarming, and the specificity of the species is that when the grazing is exhausted they leave the brood in search of a new, stronger grazing to provide the community with a sufficient quantity of food.
  • Giant honey bee (apis dorsata). They construct single honeycombs. All the cells are built uniformly. There is no distinction between the worker, drone and queen bee honeycombs. Depth of a honeycomb cell reaches up to 34mm. Worker bees are twice the size of the European Carniolan honey bee. Worker bees and the queen bee do not differ in size. The giant bees live in open spaces, and they have adjusted their way of life to this. The defensive mechanisms of this type of bee are specifically pronounced, and they guard their brood well. Old communities are divided into new, smaller communities. The drive to swarm is quite weak. When grazing areas decrease or are exhausted, they leave the brood and move to an area richer in food.
  • Africanized bee. The Africanized bee was created as part of a project of the Brazilian government to create a bee capable to successfully pollinate flora in a tropical, moist climate, and to gather as much honey as possible.

The basic classification of bees based on the way of life is into: solitary and social bees.

Solitary bees live a lonely life. Each female bee constructs her own brood in the soil, building earthen chambers to lay eggs and raise larvae.

Social bees live a social life, and single bees, outside the bee community cannot survive. There are hundreds of varieties of social bees. They build a complex, highly organized community. Within a society, there is a clear distribution of roles, depending on the sex and age of a bee. Thus, some bees are in charge of defense, food gathering, breeding, cleaning, air-conditioning. The limit is not clearly defined, since there are bees that lead their lives the same way as solitary bees, excepting the fact that multiple female bees share one brood. Some bees live in smaller communities (2-7 bees), some create temporary colonies that go extinct in the autumn, and only the inseminated female survives the winter (bumble-bee being an example). Honey bees are the most significant, and the most significant type is the European-African honey bee (Apis mellifica L.), kept throughout the world.