Are you wondering what type of bee is best for beekeeping? If YES, here are 9 best bees for beekeeping in 2023. When looking to become a beekeeper, there are factors and decisions you will have to make to ensure the smooth operation of your hive. If, for instance, you have the space, the interest, the permission, the brood boxes and the protective bee suit, then the first thing you need to do is to explore the different types of honey bees available.
One particular thing some novice beekeepers don’t take into consideration is that there are “races” or types of honeybees, as well as some native bees, each with different characteristics that might suit your beekeeping needs. Although there are only of a handful of honeybee species found throughout the world, but there are dozens of subspecies and thousands of different types.
What is the Best Type of Bee for Beekeeping in 2023?
Note that the bees you end up buying could indeed, and most likely, be predominately one of the following breeds, but it is recommended you make your own research. And just because you purchase a particular breed of bee doesn’t entail that they will exhibit the traits usually attributed to that breed. Nonetheless, here are top choices to consider;
Table of Content
- Italian Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera Ligustica)
- Gibraltar Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera Iberiensis)
- Western/European Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera)
- Caucasian Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera Caucasica)
- The Gray/Carniolan Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera Carnica)
- German Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera Mellifera)
- Russian Honey Bee (Hybrid Breed)
- Himalayan Honey Bee (Apis Cerana)
- Buckfast Honey Bees (Hybrid Breed)
Italian Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera Ligustica)
Note that this bee is a variety of the Apis Mellifera and it is one of the well-renowned honey bee species in North America. Americans love the Apis Mellifera Liguistica due to their gentle nature and high honey production. These advantages combined make the Italian honey bee one of the best choices for beekeeping.
In addition, these bees are known to have a very beautiful aesthetic. Apis Mellifera Liguistica is easily noted by their bright gold body dappled in deep black stripes. These bees also tend to stray from the beehive and that is why beekeepers are always advised to keep an eye on them to ensure they don’t get lost. But even with their tendency to wander off, they dislike travelling long distances for food, so beekeepers are expected to surround the bees with all kinds of nectar-filled flowers.
Gibraltar Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera Iberiensis)
This bee is quite popular because they have managed to keep their bloodline pure and clean for millions of years now. These bees will always decline to mate with any queen that doesn’t share their genes. Howbeit, these bees are quite renowned for being very notorious for their unique defence technique.
Once their territory is invaded, they are known to send out a troop of guard bees to patrol the area and strike everything and anything considered a threat. Beekeepers with this type of Bee are always advised to wear the correct equipment or you’ll end up with a body full of stings and blisters rather than a hive full of bees.
Western/European Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera)
This type of bee is perfect for beginner beekeepers eager to cater to domesticated bee species. They are renowned for their yellow-striped abdomens and their tendency to build large colonies, even in the wild. Note that this bee species have been popular for centuries now, and according to experts, this has led to evolution suiting the needs of raising domesticated bees.
For instance, the Apis Mellifera is not as aggressive as other types of honey bees and they can easily produce an encouraging large amount of honey regularly. In addition, they have developed a certain resiliency against human environments.
Caucasian Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera Caucasica)
The Apis Mellifera Caucasica is a large bee species well recognised by the grey hair covering their entire bodies. Also note that this type of honey bee is known to have a sticky beehive, which is as a result of excess propolis production.
Generally, most experts in the industry will not recommend the Apis Mellifera Caucasica to beginners. Firstly, these bees are susceptible to infections and you will be expected to check up on them at least once a month to ensure they are not signs and symptoms of any disease.
In addition, the Caucasian honey bees are known to be quite aggressive. Even with a bee smoker, it might take a few minutes for these bees to calm down, especially if they feel attacked or threatened. Also, note that these bees are relatively slow in building their colony. Only an experienced beekeeper can effectively stimulate procreation and honey production.
The Gray/Carniolan Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera Carnica)
This type of bee is perfect for beginner beekeepers who are not yet ready to handle aggressive bees because they are very mild-natured. Note that these are very easy to work with, even without using the smoker too often.
In addition, they are able to survive the winter without downsizing in colony size and you can also graciously harvest a few jars of honey within the colder months. One con with this type of bee is that during spring their colony size drastically increases and this leaves you vulnerable to swarming.
German Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera Mellifera)
Renowned as one of the younger types of honey bees in Europe, these bees only just arrived during the Ice Age, which is about 2.4 million years ago. Meanwhile, research notes that the ancestors of modern honey bees can be traced back to more than a hundred million years ago!
These bees are easily recognised by their small, stump body and they have a hint of yellow and their bodies are coloured in either jet black or dark brown. But you have to understand that these types of honey bees are quite rare, and if you even manage to locate a swarm of them, a novice beekeeper will find challenging to control them as they are quite aggressive in nature.
Russian Honey Bee (Hybrid Breed)
According to experts, these honey bees are another breed most first-time beekeepers should consider starting with. Have it in mind that what makes the Russian honey bee alluring is how resistant the breed is to mites and how well they can survive during winter.
If, for instance, you live in a colder climate, this Russian honey bee might be a good place to start your beekeeping adventures. Nonetheless, there are some downsides to starting with Russian honey bees. This breed of bees is particularly susceptible to swarming and can be a daunting issue for beginning beekeepers to manage.
In addition, these Russian honey bees tend to be quite defensive and you will need better protective gear to manage them. Lastly, Russian honey bees tend not to produce honey at the same rate as some of the other, more fruitful breeds.
Himalayan Honey Bee (Apis Cerana)
According to reports, these are the main bee species in various parts of Asia. These types of honey bees are common in countries such as Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, and Malaysia, among others. Note that what makes these bees unique is their flexibility to weather changes and various diseases.
Since the Apis Cerana is relatively small, some companies prefer to import European honey bees into Asia to help boost honey production. But according to data, this has led to an influx of diseases. Howbeit, instead of perishing, the Apis Cerana adapted by becoming more hygienic!
These bees are renowned as one of the only types of honey bees that frequently renew wax brood combs. In addition, they are far less susceptible to diseases induced by weather changes. They are popular for surviving harsh winters and blazing-hot summers with ease.
Buckfast Honey Bees (Hybrid Breed)
If you are eager for a honey bee breed that can match the Italians in terms of production, then you can go for the Buckfast honey bee. Aside from being efficient and good producers, Buckfast honey bees aren’t as likely to swarm as some of the other breeds on this list.
Also, note that the Buckfast bees are resistant to mites. However, the only issue with the bees is that they can sometimes be a shade pricier than Italians and some of the other breeds on this list. As you make your decision on which breed of bee is best for you, you will need to take into consideration if you think you can handle a more aggressive bee and the climate you live in.
Always note that different types of bees have different needs and produce differing results. Once you choose, you will have to arrange your maintenance routine and even choose specific beekeeping equipment based on what you get.