Carniolan bee (Apis mellifera Carnica) in Slovenia




Description of the Carniolan Bee

The Carniolan Bee is autochthonous over a wide area of Central Europe in a small part of north Italy, in the eastern part of the Carnian Alps, the entire territory of Slovenia, a considerable part of Austria (Carinthia, Styria, Lower Austria, the Province of Burgenland, most of Hungary, part of Rumania, FR of Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Croatia. The evolution of the subspecies dates back to the time after the end of the last ice age, i.e., some 10,000 years ago. Under this general subspecies of the Carniolan Bee there are three main varieties Alpine Carniolans (Slovenia, Austria, Slovakia), Pannonian Carniolans (the Danubian area)  and  Mediterranean Carniolans.

A beehive in a winter setting

The alpine type of Carniolans has larger wings than the bees of some other strains. Its body is smaller than the body of the Black Bee. The size of the body in the Carniolan Bee depends to a large extent on its natural habitat the further southeast the slimmer are the bees and the more their temperament is pronounced. 

The regions where the alpine and the pannonian variety of the Carniolan Bee are found are characterized by long and harsh winters. Spring is comparatively short, which requires prompt and vigorous expansion of the bee colonies. The entire area is characterized by considerable daily and seasonal temperature fluctuations.


9 - Compared with Honey Bees of some other races, the Carniolan Bee is able to take full advantage of pollen forage  

The Carniolan Bee has a long tongue reach, which is important for seed production in red clover. The cycle of building up of the colony is closely adapted to foraging conditions. Carniolans overwinter in small colonies, for the most part the queens do not lay from October to the end of January. The first brood combs appear at the beginning of February. Thereafter, a fast spring build up of the colonies follows in preparation for the first major forage, which usually starts at the end of April or beginning of May. An irregular development is sometimes observed with the spring build up (colonies developing either ahead of time or too late), which means an additional possibility of survival in unstable circumstance, at least for certain parts of the colonies. During extended dearths of pasturage in hot summer weather, the queen substantially reduces laying. The adaptability of the Carniolan Bee allows it to take full advantage of all natural source of food, while in any adverse circumstances the queen promptly reduces or even stops laying.       

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