The Carniolan honeybee is another subspecies of the western honeybee. This bee is native to Slovenia and is adored by the Slovenian people. It is also found in other countries in that area, like southern Austria, Serbia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria, as well as parts of Croatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina. There are not all that many Carniolan bees in the USA.

The Carniolan honeybee is sometimes called the grey bee because although it is about the same size as the Italian bee, the coloring is brown grey with lighter brown stripes. It has a very long tongue and short hair.

The Carniolan bee and Italian bee that we blogged about yesterday, are the two most popular bees with beekeepers, so they are often compared.

This 3:13-minute video by Hobby Farm Guy takes a good look at the Carniolan bee:



The Carniolan queen bee is slower to start brood production in spring but makes up for it on the other end of the summer by continuing strong brood production into late September. Carniolan queens are adept at adjusting their worker populations to the amount of nectar available.  Once spring nectar starts to flow, they expand brood production. As flowers start to die off and nectar flow wanes in autumn, the queens reduce brood production. This allows them to build a substantial honey store for winter.

The Carniolan bee has a greater genetic tendency to swarm than the Italian or Ligurian bee. They also have a genetic tendency to live longer, between 4 and 9 days longer, than other honeybee subspecies. They are very clean bees, and are resistant to some of the parasites and diseases, like Nosemia and Dysentery, which can destroy hives.

The Carniolan honeybee is gentle with beekeepers but is a strong defender of the hive against other insects, much more so than the docile Italian bee. They are not aggressive, in fact they are sweet enough to dwell in populated areas. Smoke calms these bees if they get agitated. 

Carniolan bees are not as weather sensitive as Italian bees. They do not mind foraging on cool or overcast days, so their honey production can be higher than that of Italian bees. They are also better equipped for winter as their small cluster is tighter than the looser Ligurian clusters. The downside is that if there are more bees to feed all winter, they may go through all their honey and need attentive beekeepers to feed them sugar water by late January or February until they can emerge in early spring.