carniolan bee: selected caracteristics

Pureness of the specie

It is well known that hybrid and mixed species give better than average results their first year, but the outcomes are usually disastrous over the following years. That is the reason why it is necessary to adopt a long-term perspective and to work with pure and genuine                         CARNICA BEES.

Locations of the Authentic carniolan bee   

Due to its geographical location, Slovenia is the natural meeting point of four different regions: the Alpine region, the Pannonian region, the Mediterranean region and the dinaro-karstic regions.

Nowhere else is it possible to find



(i.e. the alpine one in the Northwest, the Mediterranean one next to the Adriatic Sea, the dinaro-karstic on in the Southeast and the Pannonian on in the Northwest.)

Since 1984, the raising/growing/cultivation of Queens has been reestablished and the Slovene Ministry of Agriculture now regulates the quality control of the bees.

The NATIONAL COMMITTEE  for the Selection of CARNIOLAN BEES annually implements strict guidelines for queen and bee producers, which guarantees the pureness of the breed by demanding the destruction of all Queens which do not fulfil the criteria of the CARNICA BREED.

Physical characteristics:carniolan_bee

Carniolan bees are nearly as big and long as the Western European black bees, though their abdomens are much slimmer. They have grey hairy stripe, which has led to the bees being known as the ‘GREY BEE’. Their chitin is dark, but it is possible to find lighter colored or brown colored rings and dots on their bodies. Furthermore, the Carniolan bee has a very long tongue (6.5 to 6.7 mm, which is very well adapted for clover), a very high elbow joint and very short hair.

All those characteristics make the recognition of Carniolan bees easier, when compared to the other species.


Carnica - Carniolan bees adapt easily to different kinds of climatic conditions and landscapes.

Just like Caucasian bees, Carniolan are GENTLE and   NON-AGGRESSIVE, which enables them to be kept in    populated areas. 

They possess an excellent sense of    orientation and flying ability (especially in mountainous regions)

Carniolan forager bees usually live 4 to 9 days longer than other races.

Being good wax producers, they are naturally clean (hence their advantage in comb honey production) and a low tendency to propolise.

They do not rob honey from other beehiveselle ne pratique pas le pillage

they are strongly RESISTANT to NOSEMIA and DYSENTERY 

they are able to put up with extremely low temperatures and can over-winter with only 50% of their honey reserves, without getting sick. As well, they can spend up to 150 days inside the hive in winter

-the over-wintering population is quite smaller than that of other bee races, but during spring and summer, the population grows substantially to a comparable size.

- when compared with the other species, Carniolan bees prove to be the ones requiring the least amount of food for over-wintering (i.e. half of what Italian bees require)

-In advance of other honeybee races, the carniolans build up very rapidly in spring. This is the reason why they are also called ‘SPRING HONEY FLOW BEES’. This characteristic allows the colonies to take full advantage of the early honey flows in agricultural European countries.

They then require to be treated carefully and require a progressive expansion of the broodnest.

- under the same conditions, the amount of honey harvested from Carniolan hives was considerably greater than that of the Caucasian and Italian hives. ( 37% and 18% more respectively).


Professional bee keeper, expert for the Slovene Ministry of Agriculture with regards to the studies made about Carnica bees, journalist working for the bee-related Slovene magazine ‘Slovenski Cebelar’, and member of the National Selection Committee for Carnica bees.





Last modified on the 04/02/08 – ® Site created by Louis Ivanec– SC La Carniole ‘Import of Carnica queens from Slovenia’,19 allee du Gros Chene 63910 Chignat FRANCE