Carnies and Eye-talians

March 30, 2009

I’ve got my order in for two 4 lbs packages of bees. This year, I’m getting my bees through the Whidbey Island Beekeeper’s Association (the “Whidbees”), so I had the option of getting Carniolan queens (named for their historical origin in the Slovenian / Romanian / Bulgarian region) instead of the Italians I’ve been getting in years past.

Most American beekeepers raise Italians, so I was a bit wary and did some reading. It seems that the main differences are:

  • Carniolans are more productive foragers, leading to larger yields
  • Carniolans have a higher resistance to illness
  • Carniolans are more more prone to swarming

This last issue shouldn’t be underestimated. I’m an exceptionally lazy beekeeper, and my lassitude and apathy has encouraged my bees to swarm almost every year I’ve had them (e.g., Swarm! Swarm! Swarm! and Return of the Swarm). When they do swarm, of course, that means half the hive leaves, reducing output considerably.

On the other hand, I could try harder (i.e., police the hive for queen cells, make sure they’ve got room, etc.)

So I’ve decided to hedge my bets: I’m going with one Italian and one Carniolan. They should arrive next weekend. Exciting!

For reference, that’s a Carniolan on the left and an Italian on the right.

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