Caucasian Honey Bees

European honey bee feeding on nectar from native plant
Caucasian Honey Bee Classification
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Apidae
Genus: Apis
Species: A. mellifera

Apis mellifera caucasia, the Caucasian honey bee, is capable of producing large quantities of honey and propolis. A combination of this and their generally gentle and docile nature makes Caucasian honey bees highly desirable among beekeepers.

Caucasian honey bees get their name from their ancestral home in the Central Caucasus.

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    Where Can Caucasian Honey Bees Be Found?

    A Caucasian honey bee can be found in the Central Caucasus, where they originated.[1] This includes regions in Georgia, Armenia, and parts of Turkey. As a result of their birthplace, Caucasian honey bees are accustomed to potentially colder climates.

    As a result of the popularity of Caucasian honey bees among beekeepers, these bees are now abundant throughout the world. 

    Caucasian honey bees are known for their ability to produce high amounts of honey and their docile nature, which has led to them being collected across the globe by beekeepers.

    How to Identify a Caucasian Honey Bee

    A Caucasian honey bee can be identified by its silver-gray to dark brown color. Observers will likely notice gray bands on the abdomen of Caucasian honey bees, which contrast with their dark coloring.

    Brown spots may be found on some Caucasian honey bees.[2]

    In general, queen Caucasian honey bees are identifiable by their large abdomens. Queen Caucasian honey bees have larger abdomens than both male drones and female worker bees, which makes them relatively easy to identify.

    A drone Caucasian honey bee is the only male in the hive, and its abdomen is larger than the abdomen of a female worker bee.

    Why Do Beekeepers Like Caucasian Honey Bees?

    As a result of their gentleness and honey production, Caucasian honey bees have become a favorite of beekeepers around the world. While some colonies are more docile than others, Caucasian honey bees are generally passive and easy to handle.

    There are many bee sellers who specialize in selling the most gentle Caucasian honey bee colonies they can find. [3] This docile nature is a huge boon for beekeepers, as it makes handling Caucasian honey bees and the hive much easier than with other types of honey bees.

    It should be noted that Caucasian honey bees are not only gentle towards humans, but also towards any other forms of wildlife they encounter. This can help beekeepers feel more confident that their animals are safe since many beekeepers have other types of livestock in the area.

    Caucasian honey bees possess a long proboscis.[4] A proboscis is an appendage that enables bees to collect liquids. Caucasian honey bees use it as a straw for reaching nectar that is deep within plants.

    Since Caucasian honey bees are too large to fully climb inside these plants, they use their proboscis to gather nectar. As a result of its long proboscis, the Caucasian honey bee has the advantage of reaching nectar that other kinds of bees would be unable to reach.

    Typically, a Caucasian honey bee’s proboscis measures approximately 7 millimeters in length.

    Caucasian honey bee gathering pollen and nectar from bright yellow flower

    Because the Caucasian honey bee’s birthplace in the Caucasus Mountains can get extremely cold in the winter, it has adapted to withstand this cold.

    In environments with a tendency for cold winters, beekeepers may find Caucasian honey bees to be the preferred bee species to use.

    In comparison with other races of honey bees, Caucasian honey bees have the highest effective flight distance.

    As a result of their sharp vision, Caucasian honey bees are able to fly effectively in fog and rain.

    Even with limited resources, Caucasian honey bees are capable of producing substantial amounts of honey.

    There has been evidence that Caucasian honey bees have very high honey production during times of low nectar availability in their area. [5] This high yield translates into a positive return on investment for beekeepers who produce commercial honey.

    Caucasian honey bees are capable of producing under unfavorable conditions, which can be an advantage for beekeepers. As a result, these beekeepers are confident that regardless of the season, their Caucasian honey bees will produce honey.

    Some honeybees may be forced to cease production completely in unfavorable climates.

    Caucasian honey bees are highly prized by beekeepers because, in addition to their docile nature, they are capable of producing a great deal of honey despite limited resources.

    In addition, Caucasian honey bees exhibit a low tendency to steal honey, as well as a low tendency to swarm, demonstrating their gentle nature. For beekeepers who have more than one species of hive on their property, this is particularly beneficial, as they will not have to worry about their Caucasian honey bees stealing honey from another hive.

    One of the major advantages of Caucasian honey bees is their ability to gather large amounts of propolis, as compared to other types of honey bees. It is a resin-like substance that can be used by Caucasian honey bees to create and defend their hives.

    The medicinal properties of propolis make it extremely valuable to humans. As a result of its antimicrobial properties, it has been found to be effective against fungi, bacteria, and viruses.

    Beehives are the primary source of propolis for those seeking to purchase it. As a result, the vast quantities created by Caucasian honey bees can be worth a considerable sum of money.

    In essence, Caucasian honey beekeepers cultivate two products: honey and propolis. Other honey bees also make propolis, but not in the quantity produced by Caucasian honey bees. 

    The propolis produced by Caucasian honey bees has a tendency to be very soft and thick, making inspection of the beehive more challenging.

    Although Caucasian honey bees have some advantages, some beekeepers remain hesitant about them. Caucasian honey bees reach full strength in the summer, therefore areas that experience a high amount of pollen in the spring may miss out on a significant amount of pollination.

    Even at this time of year, Caucasian honey bees are still capable of pollinating a large number of plants. However, Caucasian honey bee efforts will not be as significant as they are around the midpoint of summer.

    As a whole, Caucasian honey bees provide beekeepers with a number of advantages. The majority of these traits can be attributed to the fact that Caucasian honey bees are very gentle and easy to manage, along with the fact that they consistently produce high amounts of both honey and propolis.

    European honey bee colony with hundreds of bees

    Caucasian vs. Carniolan Honey Bee

    Beekeepers often compare the Caucasian honey bee to the Carniolan honey bee due to their similar personalities.[6] Both honey bees are also known for their gentle behavior, with the Carniolan honey bee being noted for its gentle disposition.

    Propolis production is one way in which the Caucasian honey bee outperforms the Carniolan honey bee. There is some propolis produced by Carniolan honey bees, but the yield is significantly lower than that of Caucasian honey bees.

    Generally, Carniolan honey bee colonies reach full strength in the spring, while Caucasian honey bee colonies reach full strength around the end of the summer.

    Carniolan honey bees have the advantage of being able to take full advantage of nectar in the early spring, while Caucasian honey bees may not reach their full potential until later in the summer.

    Below is a table that provides a side-by-side comparison of two types of honey bees.

    Caucasian Carniolan
    Social or Solitary Social Social
    Propolis High Low
    Honey Processing Low Good
    Gentleness Very gentle Very gentle
    Size About 15 mm long Normally smaller than 15 mm long

    Where Do Caucasian Honey Bees Live?

    In common with other types of honey bees around the world, Caucasian honey bees live in beehives. Caucasian honey bee nests take the form of a typical beehive. These beehives are typically found in natural crevices or openings, as well as beneath structures such as bridges or buildings.

    One unique characteristic of Caucasian honey bees is that they commonly cohabitate two queens in the same hive.

    Similarly to other hives, Caucasian honey bee hives are made from softened wax, which is obtained after the bees chew on the wax until it becomes pliable.

    How Big Is a Caucasian Honey Bee Colony?

    Typically, Caucasian bee colonies number between 20,000 and 80,000 female worker bees, accompanied by hundreds of drone bees and one or two queens. It is usually around summertime when Caucasian honey bee colonies reach their peak strength.

    At maximum capacity, a Caucasian honey bee colony can be one of the most efficient bee colonies in the world, which is why they have become such a popular choice for beekeepers worldwide.

    What Do Caucasian Honey Bees Eat?

    Caucasian honey bees extract and eat nectar and pollen from a wide variety of plants. As a result of the long proboscis of Caucasian honey bees, they are able to reach nectar that other types of bees are unable to reach.

    As well as feeding the bees, this nectar is also used to feed the Caucasian honey bee eggs and larvae that are presently developing within the beehive.

    Additionally, Caucasian honey bees are known to be very frugal with their food. Beekeepers do not need to worry about Caucasian honey bees having enough food even during periods of low nectar supply.

    Do Caucasian Honey Bees Pollinate?

    The Caucasian honey bee is an excellent pollinator. During pollination, Caucasian honey bees collect pollen on their external hairs. The hairs on the back of the Caucasian honey bee pick up pollen from plants when the bee lands on them in search of nectar.

    When the Caucasian honey bee travels to the next plant, it picks up more pollen and drops some of what it has already picked up.

    Caucasian honey bee with full pollen sacks standing on a twig
    As a result of their long proboscis, Caucasian honey bees are particularly valuable to beekeepers as they have the ability to reach nectar that other types of bees are not able to access.

    Pollen is ingested by some bee species along with nectar, but Caucasian honey bees simply collect it from plants with their external hairs when they land.

    Among the best pollinators in the world are the Caucasian honey bees, which contribute significantly to the global ecosystem.

    Do Caucasian Honey Bees Sting?

    Among the gentlest types of bees in the world, Caucasian honey bees are very unlikely to sting humans. As a result, Caucasian honey bees are a favorite among beekeepers.

    Female Caucasian honey bees are equipped with stingers, and they may sting humans if they feel threatened. However, Caucasian honey bees are well known for their docile nature and are unlikely to sting humans, especially if they are found in the wild. Caucasian honey bees are likely to behave passively even when handled by someone.

    European honey bee gathering nectar and pollen from wild thyme flowers

    Reproduction & Lifecycle of Caucasian Honey Bees

    There are two types of eggs laid by queen Caucasian honey bees: fertilized and unfertilized.[7] Fertilized Caucasian honey bee eggs develop into female worker bees or queen bees, while unfertilized eggs develop into male drone bees.

    A Caucasian honey bee develops in three stages: the egg, the larva, and the pupa. Incubation of Caucasian honey bee larvae begins within three days of the eggs being laid. Caucasian honey bee larvae are fed nectar and pollen by worker bees while they develop.

    Eventually, the cells in which these Caucasian honey bee larvae reside are sealed and the larvae begin to develop into pupae.

    It takes 16 days for an egg to develop into a queen Caucasian honey bee, 21 days for a female worker bee, and 24 days for a male drone bee. As a result of this development, the new Caucasian honey bees enter the hive and begin working on their assigned tasks.


    [1] oldsolbees [2] Perfect Bee [3] Caucasian Breeder [4] amc international [5] Api Expert [6] Sequim Plants [7] Hansen Honey Farm

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