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Mid Ohio Valley Beekeepers' Association

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updated  5/03/2011

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Characteristics of Races of Honey Bees

Italian Bees
Probably the most common race of honeybees in this area.
Colonies are usually large and winter well.
Very good honey producers.
Usually gentle and non-aggressive.
Swarming instinct is not especially strong.
Minimum propolis.
Keep a clean hive and are quick to get rid of the wax moth.
Queens lay all through the summer, so a large amount of stores are used for brood rearing.
Italian bees have a strong tendency to rob.
Yellow coloring with bands on the abdomen.
Caucasian Bees
Very gentle bees.
Do not swarm excessively. 
Brood buildup is later in the spring.
A good honey producer, not exceptional.
Caucasians produce and use a good deal of propolis.
Brown in color.
Carniolan Bees
A very gentle race of bees.
Probably the best wintering bees.
Little use of propolis.
Builds up very rapidly in the spring.
Summer brood rearing depends on pollen and nectar flow.
Usually not inclined to rob.
These bees tend to swarm more. Probably due to rapid spring build up.
Not as productive as Italians.
Buckfast Bees
Developed by brother Adam at Buckfast Abbey, Devon, England.
Very rapid spring build up.
Very gentle bees.
Low tendency to swarm.
Low consumption of winter stores.
Well adapted to areas with damp cold winters.
Excellent honey producers.
Inclined to rob.
Midnight Bees
Hybrid bee.
Very gentle.
Developed for hobbyist beekeepers.
Not as productive as the Italian or Starline races.
Starline Bees
Hybrid bee based on Italian stock.
Rapid spring build up.
Gentle.
Winter well.
Good honey producers.