Rooftop Sweet Factory
In 1879, August Pollmann described and named the bees he obtained from Carniola as the subspecies Apis mellifera carnica, known also as the Carniolan bee or the Krainer Biene. Technical improvements and modernizations in beekeeping as well as the spread of reared stock in the second half of the 19th and in the 20th century further consolidated the identity and reputation of the Carniolan bee in Europe. Alongside the recognition and description of the biological characteristics of the western honey bee, important progress was also achieved in commerce.
In 1866, Emil Rothschütz, a German immigrant, started selling bees, creating proper conditions for an important element of beekeeping: “commercial bee breeding.” In addition to Rothschütz, many other beekeepers traded in bees.
Bees were bred commercially by Barron Filip Rothschütz from Višnja Gora in Lower Carniola; in 1858, he sold his first bees to Eichstadt, Germany.
In 1879, August Pollmann described a new subspecies or race, bearing the Latin name Apis mellifera carnica, but also called the Carniolan bee or the Krainer Biene.
The most prominent bee merchants were the following:
Emil Rothschütz (1836–1909),
Mihael Ambrožič (1846–1904),
and Jan Strgar (1881–1955).
Many other beekeepers specialized in selling bees, primarily trading in swarms.
All bee imports are subject to approval from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Food. With ongoing selection and intensive colony and queen rearing, Slovenia has managed to preserve the indigenous population of the Carniolan bee.
In declaration no. 42 of the European Union Association Agreement, the Republic of Slovenia ensures the implementation of all suitable normative measures (Animal Husbandry Act;
Official Journal of the Republic of Slovenia, nos. 18/2002, 110/2002 (8/2003 – rev.), 110/2002, and 45/2004) for the preservation of the indigenous bee race Apis mellifera carnica.
In 2004, the Slovenian Beekeepers’ Association obtained the status of a recognized bee breeders’ association. In Slovenia, beekeepers are allowed to keep only the Carniolan bee Apis mellifera carnica, a subspecies of the western honey bee Apis mellifera.
Slovenia is the original homeland of the Carniolan bee (Apis mellifera carnica). Only bees with established typical characteristics may be entered in the Pure-Line Carniolan Bee Breeding Register.
• Light brown, leathery brown, or dark;
• A well-developed, resistant thorax and a long, pointed abdomen.
• Medium-sized, thin, generally gray, long legs;
• The abdomen is pointed and dark, the first wide lateral abdominal segment may exhibit leathery brown spots or patches, the first abdominal segment may be entirely leathery brown;
• The tomentum is gray to yellowish gray, wide, and very distinct;
• The hairs of the fifth abdominal segment are thick and short (0.25–0.35 mm);
• The cubital index is 2.7 (2.4–3.0);
• The proboscis is 6.4 to 6.8 mm long.
• The abdomen is dark, never yellow;
• The hairs are gray to grayish brown;
• The cubital index is 2.0 (1.8–2.3).
Ethological characteristics of the Carniolan bee:
• Very docile, rarely stings;
• Calmly sits on the honeycomb;
• Renowned for its high yield;
• Does not fly into foreign hives;
• Over-winters in relatively small colonies and consumes moderate amounts of stored food;
• Exceptionally intensive spring development, good laying;
• Inclined to swarm.
The Carniolan bee has specific biometric characteristics. The Julian Alps area, as well as the eastern border area of Slovenia, is home to several species of the western honeybee. It is no wonder that crossbreeds are not uncommon, especially between Apis mellifera ligustica and A. mellifera carnica. Even in the habitat of the indigenous Carniolan bee (A. mellifera carnica), local varieties exist. These have been largely defined by Jože Rihar and Janez Poklukar on the basis of their research. Based on beekeepers’ experience, a firm grounding in local varieties of the Carniolan bee is also very important for practical beekeeping. Their most frequent characteristics are: intensity of spring development, the ability to gather nectar in various geographical and climatic environments, maintaining the number of bees in the colony during the summer, the post-foraging period, and the ability to survive long winters.
An important goal of the Carniolan Bee Breeding Program is preserving the population variability of the Carniolan bee in Slovenia.
This is a special mission and obligation incumbent upon all beekeepers. The need to preserve natural varieties that are not the product of human selection must be emphasized.