How Many Types of Honey Bees Are There? Know Them!

Honey Bees are an integral part of nature. They heavily contribute to pollination, which is key to the reproduction of plants.

However, they have recently been threatened of extinction due to the gradual progression of industrialization. The use of a pesticide called neonicotinoids in crops has made the bee population susceptible to a new kind of disease that severely affects their central nervous system.

Bees are the key driving force for pollination. Bees conduct roughly 70% of all pollination, which translates into 200 billion USD in agricultural production.

So, this massive decline in bee population has become alarmingly dangerous for our own species.

Present Types of Honey Bees

The increasing effects of climate change have made bee hives more susceptible to extreme weather conditions, making it difficult for them to survive. This is also a major contributing factor behind the decline of honey bees.

So, it is important for bee farmers and average civilians alike to understand the classification of honey bees and their distinct characteristics. A higher understanding of their distinct traits may help us control the environment in a manner that protects the bee population.

Here, we’ve taken the liberty of classifying the major species and sub-species of bees in a concise and informative manner.

1. The Italian Honey Bee

The Italian Honey Bee is perhaps the most common of all bees, which is why it is so popular in the beekeeping industry. It originates from the sub-species Apis Mellifera Ligustica. They were shipped to the USA in 1859 where they soon became a favorite to the beekeepers.

This may have been possible due to their innate ability of growing their hive population in the winter as well as not showing any backdrops during the summer. They’re also friendlier (in comparison to their predecessor, the German Black Bees) and more resilient to diseases.

They are also known for their innate talent of producing fantastic honey. The Italian Honey Bees are overwhelmingly prevalent in the beekeeping industry today.

The Italian bees are quite aesthetically pleasing as well, with their light shade of lime yellow. This has not gone unappreciated by the bee farmers.

The only issues farmers may face raising Italian bees are that they behavior in a predatory manner with weaker colonies and that they tend to consume a large portion of their honey produce if the farmers aren’t careful.

2. The German Bee

The German bee first gained popularity when the European settlers brought them into North America in the early 17th century. These bees have a much darker hue than their Italian counterparts and can get awfully defensive, making them difficult to manage.

 They’re often referred to as the ‘Black Bees’ and belong to the sub-species Apis Mellifera. They’re known for their survivability in the cold northern winters.

However, they’ve been losing popularity due to their defensive nature ever since the first Italian Bees made their appearance.

They were wildly available in the feral regions but that has taken a hard turn ever since the rise of the pesticide and climate issues, making these bees a rarity.

3. The Carniolan Bee


The Carniolan Bee, also originating from Europe, has been a widely favored species among bee farmers. This favoritism stems from their ability of growing substantially in population during the early spring, which helps them gain a competitive edge during the early spring blooms.

They’re also quite gentle, making them easy to work with, as they require minimal smoke and protective gear. The Carniolan bee is also known for its excellent capability of building wax combs, the raw material for candle and soap industries.

A drawback may be the tendency to swarm among these bees due to the rapid spring growth. Carniolan bees may become hard to farm with if you’re not an experienced farmer who practices proper caution.

4. The Caucasian Bee

The Caucasian bee originated from Eastern Europe. They had gotten popular in North America, but have been seeing major decline in demand in the past 30 years.

They belong to the A. m. Caucasica sub-species and possess substantially long tongues, so they are able to easily extract nectar from sources that are hard to reach for other species.

Caucasian bees are also significantly docile in comparison to the German black bees, but they do produce a staggering amount of propolis, an adhesive substance sometimes referred to as ‘Bee Glue’, rendering their hives difficult to manage.

5. The Russian Bee

The Russian bees originate from the far eastern parts of Russia and have been brought to North America very recently. They were brought in due to their ease in coexisting alongside dangerous mites.

Naturally, farmers assumed they would excel in a proper environment. Also, researchers have concluded that this specific sub-specie of bees have grown a complete resistance towards the dangerous mites that cause irreversible damage to bee hives.

This makes the type commercially available ever since the millennium.

The Russian bees reproduce depending on the available nectar in the environment, making it easier to manage them. One of their distinct characteristics involves maintaining a queen cell at all times, which only exists during times of swarming or queen replacement for other species.

Russian bees also thrive when in complete isolation from other species. Their resistance towards mites has proven to decrease when they are in the presence of other species.

6. The Buckfast Bee

In England during the 1920s, honey bees were completely obliterated due to the acarine disease. During this period, a monk named Brother Adams was appointed with the task of discovering a species of bees that could withstand harsh conditions in England.

After countless expeditions, he successfully created a bee stock with the prevalence of the Italian race of bees.

These bees showed promising honey production as well as remarkable housecleaning qualities such as reducing mites and diseases.

Buckfast bees aren’t the most defensive of all species, but that can easily change if they’re kept undisturbed for more than 2 generations. A drawback: the Buckfast bees don’t show promising levels of growth during the spring period.


There is no denying that Honey Bees are essential to the functionality of our ecosystem. But their high mortality rates, as of recent, have become an issue of global concern.

So, it is our responsibility to make sure that the existing bee population can enjoy a habitable environment and safely reproduce so the population may reach a stable point. As a bee farmer, it is essential that one know the race they’re farming so that one does not expose the bees to susceptible conditions.

We must also take steps to minimize the use of neonicotinoids or simply find a suitable alternative that doesn’t contribute heavily to the extinction of bees.

As humans, it is our responsibility that our technological progress does not affect or threaten the lives of other species. We must all learn to coexist and be a part of the greater animal kingdom.

Related Posts:

  1. Why and How Do Bees Make Honey?
  2. How Many Flowers Must Bees Visit to Produce 1 Pound of Honey?

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