Main menu


The Carniolan bee - characteristics and defects

The so-called domestic bees, or of the genus Apis, didn't exist originally on the American and Australian continents. The American Indians produced honey from honey bees, stingless bees, whose production and breeding are without comparison with Apis mellifera. The colonists then introduced European bees of different origins and then selected them efficiently on criteria of production and softness.
Among these introduced bees, we find the carniolan bee, or Apis mellifera carnica, is one of the four breeds of honey bees. It is sometimes called the gray Italian, because of its close resemblance to the Italian bee.

Originally from the Balkan Peninsula, and more precisely from Slovenia, the Carniolan is a bee very present in Europe. It is very appreciated by beekeepers for its many qualities.

Characteristics of the Carniolan bee

The Carniolan bee has won over a large number of beekeepers because of its characteristics:

Honey production Carniolan bee produces a lot of honey.
A gentle bee that rarely stings, making it easy to breed even in urban areas.
Sense of orientation
The Carniolan bee  has no difficulty in orienting itself and finding its way.
The gray forager lives between 4 and 9 days longer than bees of other breeds
Sealing of Honeycomb
It excels in this task, especially in winter.
Maintaining the hive
The gray bee's nest is often very clean.
The Carniolan is resistant to certain brood diseases, such as European foulbrood.
Ability to adapt to different climates and reliefs
It can be bred in both mountainous and urban areas. It tolerates very low temperatures well, and can stay up to 150 days in its hive, without going out.
Management of the swarm
the gray bee is very far-sighted. In the event of prolonged drought (in summer) or in the face of a harsh winter, the queen even manages to interrupt her laying. But then its population grows and quickly reaches those of other races.
by limiting its population, carnica consumes little food. She can even be satisfied with half of her reserves.
the gray bee is known to be very precocious, which has earned it the name of spring honey bee. Its colonies develop intensively, especially in spring.
the gray queen is a very prolific bee.
With a long tongue, and its ability to adapt to different climates and terrain, the gray bee collects a lot of nectar and pollen.


The Carniolan bee can be recognized by certain morphological characters, such as:
The color is gray (to coppery), hence the name gray bee. Her size is large, like the black bee Apis mellifera mellifera while the abdomen is slender, with hairy bands of gray color with long legs.
The wings are larger than those of other bees, and the tongue is very long (6.5 to 6.7 mm).

Join our Facebook group

The Carniolan bee also has its faults.

  • She builds the hive badly, which can affect the quality of the colony.
  • It is very swarming.
  • It has poor resistance to nosemosis and acariosis.
  • She loots a lot, especially in times of famine.