Carniolan Honey Bee Temperament

Here is the short story on how I started raising Carniolan bees.  I ordered about 50 Italian queens and was accidently shipped 50 Carniolan queens.  I decided that I would step ahead with these Carniolan queens and learn about these bees. 

This journey was very interesting.  The start of Spring looked disastrous due to the queens started slower compared to the Italian queens.  The weather did not help with rain almost every day and cooler temperatures.  Just as I was about to pull all the Carniolan queens out of the hives, I was shocked to see these new queens had shifted into “high” brood production.  On a 8 frame hive they were laying 5 full frames of brood in early May.  Then came June and all frames in the brood box were full and stayed that way through late October.

 Now lets take a look at what the strengths and weakness of this bee.

1. The Carniolan bee is more aggressive than the Italian bee.  The positive part of this aggressiveness is that they manage Small Hive Beetles more effectively then and the Italian bee.  What I found is the Carniolan bees defend the entrance more effectively and this helps keep pests out of the hive.  I actually found several hives that propolized the Small Hive Beetles on the top of the frames!

2. I also found that they are a little more aggressive to the beekeeper.  Not really bad, but more aggressive than an Italian bee. 

3. Due to high brood production, the bees go into winter with a healthy bee population.

4. During our trial period, which was mostly rainy weather, the Carniolan out produced their Italian counter parts in honey production by 15%.  This data was based on the same age hive for the Carniolan and Italian hives.

5. The beekeeper must manage their hives with this bee.  Because the queen produces so much brood, the beekeeper must keep a constant eye on “bee space”.  If you don’t, they will swarm on you!  To reduce this risk, keep your bee space to 80%. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to send me an e-mail at