Distinguishing between Carniolan and Caucasian honey bees
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Wake Forest, NC
    Posts
    38

    Default Distinguishing between Carniolan and Caucasian honey bees

    Hello. My name is Nathaniel. We raise bees here in North Carolina, north of Raleigh (Granville County). I have noticed that some of our bees (open mated/naturally mated) propolize badly (They propolize so badly that they have made a curtain of propolis along the whole length of the entrance during last late summer.) and are sluggish to build up in the spring (February through early April), and so do not swarm easily. Though they do seem to raise a large percentage of drones during this early spring nectar we get from maple trees in February. They will keep a lot of their cells packed with bee bread and stay partly dormant, though as I wrote they seem to start drone breeding as much as the other breeds of bees (Italian or golden mixture). The other common bees we have (mixture of lighter bees) during this early spring nectar flow will eat up most of their honey stores and use it for brood production and will have a large population ready to swarm and draw out comb during the spring.

    After April these sluggish bees do build-up nicely to a fully populated colony to make honey. So I don't believe that they are just sickly queens running the colonies, but actually genetic.

    I believe these dark queen bees heading these colonies that are sluggish in early spring and that propolize a lot are Caucasian bees. Most likely from the beekeepers that raise Russian bees in our area. Russian bees had a high percentage of Caucasian I have read.

    It seems that these queen bees that head colonies with Caucasian traits have narrower abdomens (will have to actually measure during dearth and nectar flow and compare to thorax width), and have a brighter/richer orange mixed in with the black on the queen's abdomen. While what I think are Carniolans (little propolis, early spring build-up, black queens, gentle) seem to have duller/dusky dark brown mixed in with black on the abdomen. Have you noticed the same with your bees?

    Caucasian bees being from a different lineage (Middle Eastern lineage) from Carniolan bees (Southeastern Europe) should have at least some difference outwardly that could be seen.

    People say that Caucasian bees come from an area that is cold. I have read that around the Black Sea Coast where the Caucasian bees are from is actually a mild winter area with a cool summer (most likely influence from the sea:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humid_subtropical_climate).

    Of course higher altitudes make it colder. But I was wondering exactly how high up in the mountains are these Caucasian bees from in the Republic of Georgia. As you go east away from the Black Sea to the eastern Caucasus mountains, the climate gets dryer and colder during the winter (harsher climate). Armenian bees are from this area in the eastern part of the Caucasus mountain range. So I assume Armenian bees are more cold hardy than Caucasian bees, no?

    The Russian bees were certainly very winter hardy. I read about (http://keepingbee.org/russian-bees/) 1200 out of 1500 colonies dying through an especially cold winter in Mississippi in the year 2000. But only two colonies out of 2000 Russian bees died! That may not even have been from the weather that winter for the two Russian colonies that died, but something else, right?! So it is probably important to get a strain of bee locally adapted rather than the subspecies being a set strain of bee with specific characteristics. Though the different subspecies do seem to have some distinct tendencies. I have read that the wild population of Italian mixed bees in a park up in Ithaca, New York are now well adapted to the cold winters there in the central part of New York State (New York city would have milder winters being on the coast).

    Has anyone noticed any difference in the drones from Carniolan and Caucasian colonies?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Wake Forest, NC
    Posts
    38

    Default Re: Distinguishing between Carniolan and Caucasian honey bees

    I was told by David at Winter's Apiaries that the Caucasian bee drones have brown hair on their thoraxes, Carniolans would have white hairs. Hurray! One way to distinguish between these two dark colored bees!

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    600

    Default Re: Distinguishing between Carniolan and Caucasian honey bees

    The main difference is:

    If you find yourself removing the inner cover with a standard hive tool they're Carniolans.
    If you find yourself removing the inner cover with a 6-foot pry bar and/or a jackhammer then they're Caucasians.
    Beekeeping 5 Years - 10 production hives and about 10 nucs - Treatment OAV Only

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