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6 Types of Honey Bees (With Pictures)
Honey bees make up a crucial part of our ecosystem. Without them buzzing around pollinating our plants, we would not be able to grow nearly the same types or amount of food that we do today. We may not become extinct due to a lack of honey bees, but we sure would suffer in terms of nutrition and quality of life. As time goes on, our lifespans would likely become shorter, and life would be harder on all of us overall. So, it is important to keep those honey bees protected! There are several types of honey bees that all play essential roles in our world. Here is what you should know about them.
1. The Caucasian Honey Bee
These bees hail from the mountains in Eastern Europe. They used to be popular among beekeepers in the United States, but the stock is hard to maintain, so they have been losing popularity to other bee stocks during the last decade or so. They have long tongues that allow them to forage nectar much easier than other types of honey bees.
The Caucasian honey bee is not highly active, so they do not make for great honey producers. However, their effective pollination techniques make them worth keeping around. Their hives are hard to get into because these bees use large amounts of propolis, which is a sticky resin they produce, to reinforce their home.
2. The German Honey Bee
The German honey bee is extremely dark in color, looking almost black to the naked eye as they buzz on by. When living in a controlled environment, these are hardy bees that can withstand frigid winters and hot summers. This makes them ideal honey makers that do not have to be replaced often.
However, these are defensive bees that can be a danger to beekeepers, especially those without much experience. The German stock is rare today because beekeepers favor other stocks over them, and the wild populations are quickly dying off due to disease. If they were not so aggressive, more beekeepers would likely be open to keeping them around so they do not go extinct at any time in the future.
3. The Russian Honey Bee
This bee stock is not susceptible to the mites that are ravaging many other types of bees throughout the world, so the U.S. Department of Agriculture imported them to the United States in hopes that they would thrive, and they have. They are readily available for commercial purposes throughout the country and are living hardily in the wild.
Russian honey bees do not do well when intermingled with other types of bees, though, and being exposed to other bee stocks that are more susceptible to mites could lessen the resistance that the Russian honey bee has to the mites. These bees always maintain queen cells in their hives, whereas most other stocks only rear queen cells when it is time to replace a queen or when a bee colony swarms with their queen to a new location.
4. The Italian Honey Bee
These bees have been living in the United States since the late 1800s and are the most popular bee stock among beekeepers today. Italian honey bees can build up and maintain their colonies from the beginning of spring through the end of summer. These are efficient honey-making bees that rarely go on the defensive, making them one of the easiest bee stocks to care for.
The Italian honey bee is known for consuming much of their honey supply due to their long colonizing seasons. Therefore, their honey needs to be removed from their hives often. One Italian bee colony will attack another to steal its honey, which can become a problem for beekeepers who want to maintain multiple hives.
5. The Carniolan Honey Bee
Compared to other bee stocks, the Carniolan honey bee is an excellent early spring pollinator that can enhance fruit and vegetable blooms both commercially and in the wild. These are extremely docile honey bees that can be handled without much protective equipment and with rarely the need for protective smoke.
The Carniolan honey bee is excellent at building wax combs, which can be used to create products for sale on the local market. They do not try to steal honey from other colonies and tend to stick to themselves, which reduces the transmission of disease and parasites between colonies. Unfortunately, this is a stock that is prone to overcrowding, so they tend to swarm more often than other types of honey bees.
6. The Buckfast Honey Bee
These are hardy bees that can thrive in damp, cold climates. They are late pollinators, so they do not typically get to take advantage of the first nectar flows of spring. The Buckfast honey bee is great at keeping their house clean, which helps keep them free from disease and pests. When in captivity, these are fairly harmless bees.
However, beekeepers should always wear protective gear before interacting with them. In the wild, Buckfast honey bees can be downright vicious when they feel threatened. These bees are on the smaller side and are a bit more active than many of the other bee stocks out there.
These six types of honey bees are all extremely important in the world. Some are going extinct, while others are thriving. No matter their current status, they all deserve to be acknowledged and learned about. Hopefully, our guide to the most common types of honey bees has provided you with valuable insight that helps you better understand this insect overall. Which type of honey bee interests you the most? We would love to hear what you think, so leave your comments for us!
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Featured image credit: PollyDot, Pixabay
Rachael has been a freelance writer since 2000, in which time she has had an opportunity to research and write about many different topics while working to master the art of fusing high-quality content with effective content marketing strategies. She is an artist at heart and loves to read, paint, and make jewelry in her spare time. As a vegan, Rachael is obsessed with helping animals in need both in her community and anywhere in the world where she feels she can make a difference. Animals also happen to be her favorite topic to write about! She lives off the grid in Hawaii with her husband, her garden, and her rescue animals including 5 dogs, a cat, a goat, and dozens of chickens.