How many types of honey bees are there?
The Italian Honey Bee (Apis mellifera ligustica)
The Italian Honey Bees is the one group of bees which is the most used of honey bee stock. As the name has indicated, this type of bee originated from Italy brought to the United Sates from way back in 1859. They are known for their prolific brood cycles and production, gentle nature and reluctance to swarm. The Italian Honey Bees are excellent producers that is why most commercial beekeepers use these bees as their main source of production. These bees are very light in color that their yellowness is very pleasing to the eyes making it easy to identify compared to other bees. Italian Honey Bees are great for almost any beekeeper due to their well-rounded nature and availability in packages and nucs.
The Russian Bee (from Primorsky Krai region of Russia)
The Russian bees were introduced to the US way back in 1997. The USDA brought these types of bees to help with the increase of colony collapse disorder happening because of some parasites. These Russian Bees are said to have the natural capacity of colony tolerance against varroa destructors and tracheal mites, which are both external parasitic mites that attack honey bees.
These bees are heavily reliant on the environment which makes them tend to rear brood only during timed of nectar and pollen flows. The Russian Bees are more difficult for “newbie” beekeepers to have.
The Carniolan Bee (Apis mellifera carnica)
There are two popular bee stocks in the United States and one is the famous Carniolan Bees. These bees originate from Europe wherein they were bred to be more tolerant towards the cold climate, especially over winter.
This type of honey bee is ideal for beekeepers who are aiming to build up before summer time because of their explosive spring build-up. Other reasons why some beekeepers prefer the Carniolan bees is that they have the longest tongues which helps pollinate crops like clover. In result, they gather more nutritional resources for the benefit of their colony compared to other bee stock. Slovenia beekeepers have made Carniolan bees to be their favorite!
The Caucasian Bee (Apis mellifera caucasica)
The Caucasian Bees were very popular, but because of how slow their honey production is, some honey producers in the United States are no longer interested as much in having them around. But not everything about the Caucasian bee is bad! In fact, they have even longer tongues compared to the Carniolan bees. Although, these two bees do share the same temperament.
Even though this stock is slower, they still are capable of working efficiently especially on how these bees don’t proceed to a new comb without first filling the previous one.
The Buckfast Bee (The mutt of honey bee stock)
The Buckfast Bee stock originates from Buckfast Abby, UK, hence the name. This type is a common favorite among beekeepers in the British Isles. Buckfast bees shows high resistance towards some natural parasites. They have stronger foraging skills and they do not swarm often, making it difficult to look for within the United States.
If a beekeeper can monitor & handle the increasingly aggressive behavior of this type, the Buckfast Bee can last for longer years without the need of frequent replacement.
The European Dark Bee (Apis mellifera mellifera)
The European Dark Bee (also known as the German Dark Bee) originated from the Northern Eurasia in the colonial era. This type is difficult to maintain. This subspecies has since then been segmented further into sub races of German Bees due to its the ability to endure difficult conditions making it easy for them to survive long & cold winters compared to other types.The European Dark Bee have a very defensive nature and are susceptible to brood diseases such as the American & European Foulbrood making it less favored towards most beekeepers.
This strain is most probably not available in the United States because this is not actually a good choice especially for beginners who are not familiar with natural diseases and parasites.
The Africanized Bees (most commonly known as the Killer Bee) is not from Africa but are actually from Brazil. This type of honey bee was a an experiment hybrid from a lab wherein the goal was to increase their resistance towards parasites and pests and also to have it increase in population. The Africanized bees show great promise because they produce more honey at a faster pace than others. They forage since these bees were at a young age.