A Guide to the Different Types of Honey Bees

Different honey bee races have different pros and cons. Learn more about which may be best for you as you learn how to keep bees. 

March 2013

By Alethea Morrison

Homegrown Honey Bees (Storey Publishing, 2012) is a beginner's guide that clearly explains everything you need to know on how to keep bees successfully, from getting your first bees to harvesting your first crop of honey. Spectacular macro photography by Mars Vilaubi brings the inner workings of the hive to life, while the playful text by Alethea Morrison gives you the information you need to make it through your first year. Everything is addressed here, from hive structure, colony hierarchy and bee behavior to allergies, permits and restrictions, and how to deal with the neighbors. The following excerpt addresses the pros and cons of different honey bee races to give you a guide for which you may want to buy for your first colony.

You can buy this book in the Mother Earth Living store: Homegrown Honey Bees.

Honey Bee Races: Differences within the Species

Though there is more than one species of honey bee, Apis mellifera is the only one cultivated for pollination and honey production. Within that species, there are no fewer than two dozen recognized honey bee races with unique characteristics. All domesticated races of bees have been bred for qualities that are convenient to the beekeeper, and at the top of the list is gentleness. Gentle bees are less defensive and less likely to sting. 



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