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What Bees are Right for Your Hive and Needs?

What Bees are Right for Your Hive and Needs?

There are two common types of bees that are available in North America; Italians and Carniolans.

Each of these bees are great honey producing bees, and will work well in your hive. Our goal is to help you understand their traits and characteristics, thus enabling you to make a decision on which of the two types best suits your needs.

Regardless of which you choose, either are good for 1st time beekeepers.

What bees are right for you?

Italian Honey Bees

Italians are preferred over all other types of bees. They are easy to work with, pretty calm, and are hard workers. They can be the most aggressive in the spring since they’ve been confined all winter, for which we recommend wearing protective clothing.

Overall their temperament is pretty relaxed. This can present a problem when it comes to hive beetles, or other insects trying to invade the hive, because Italians won’t fight back.

Italian queens start their brood production off early in the year. She begins increasing the brood production once the pollen begins coming into the hive. Italian queens will reduce their brood production, when the nectar sources end. This usually happens in late summer or early fall, which means you will have an average hive population going into winter.

Italian bees will try to swarm during their second year. This will typically happen during the spring or summer months. Italians have an average tendency to swarm, which is good.

Italian bees are average when it comes to honey production.

Italians will not gather during cooler and overcast days. So if you live in an area where springtime is cool, and always overcast, you will likely experience low honey production from the hive.

Carniolan Honey Bees

Carniolans bees are less common in the USA. Here at Harvest Lane, we prefer them over the others. They tend to have a consistent temperament throughout the year. You will need a little smoke to make them calm, but that’s typical with all bees.

The Carniolan queens are slower to start-up with brood production and require more pollen and nectar coming into the hive to be able to start laying. Therefore, they can have a 45 day delay with brood production. They usually have strong brood production into September which results in a strong colony throughout the winter.

The Carniolan bee has a higher tendency to swarm especially in the first year. These are only a few reason of why Carnionlans might swarm:
  • The queen is laying too much brood, and not enough space to keep laying.
  • There’s not enough space for the bees.
  • It’s genetically engraved which can happen with Carniolan bees.
Carniolans can gather 15% more honey than Italian bees. This is because they can still fly in cooler temperatures, as well when it’s cloudy unlike Italians.


Carniolans have larger colonies of bees in the winter months, which is beneficial since a large hive equals a warm hive. However, more mouths to feed means the hive will run out of their honey storage mid-February so you will need to supplement and provide Liquid Bee Feed from February till spring.

 


 

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