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Сaucasian bees

Caucasian bees

The grey mountain Caucasian bee (Apis mellifera caucasia) was originated in the mountainous regions of the Caucasus and Transcaucasia and has deservedly taken the second place among the most popular bee breeds in the world. Most beekeepers involved in bee breeding are happy to work with the Caucasian honey bee.


The colour of the bee is light grey with a silvery tint or flecks of yellow (depends on the subspecies). There are no yellow stripes on the abdomen. The size of Caucasian bees is relatively small.

A unique difference between the insects and other species is the long proboscis (average 7.2 mm). A one-day worker bee weighs between 75-90 mg. The fertile queen is about 200 mg and the non-fertile queen is 180 mg. It is difficult to confuse it with other bees in the hive.


The productivity of the Caucasian grey bee depends on many external factors and subspecies-specific characteristics.

Egg laying capacity of the queen ranges from 1,100 to 1,700 eggs per 24 hours.

Given the long proboscis characteristic of the species, they are considered excellent pollinators of red clover.

During the honey harvest, the bees deposit honey in cells that are free of brood. By doing so, they restrict the queen from laying eggs. After the nesting honeycomb is full, the transition to the supers takes place.

One of the peculiarities is the activity of bees in the production of propolis, with which all cracks in the hives before wintering are sealed.

An exceptional feature of Caucasian bees is that they open the honey-gathering season early and finish working much later, as they calmly tolerate low temperatures.

They are very enterprising when searching for a new honey source and can switch from one site to another. Bees fly out in the early morning, when temperatures are usually lower. Honey collection ends late in the evening.

Grey Caucasian mountain bees are able to continue their work in drizzle or fog when other species do not fly at all.

Even in areas with few flowering plants, they manage to collect significant amounts of honey.


It is important to note the exceptional peacefulness of these insects. Moreover, they calmly treat the inspection of hives by the beekeeper. They do not show any aggression. В этом они очень похожи на Сordovan bees and Italian bees.

A tendency for robbery

The thievery of Caucasian bees can be explained by the fact that the little labourers do everything for the sake of nectar extraction, and sometimes look into other hives for this purpose.

Swarming tendency

It is worth highlighting the fact that the grey mountain Caucasian bees have a relatively low swarming rate. They easily switch to a working environment. The beekeeper can facilitate this by removing queen cells and enlarging the nest.

Breeding areas

Caucasian bees are breeding in Finland, China, Korea, Germany, France, Poland and the USA. But in general, the natural habitat of grey Caucasian mountain bees is the mountainous areas of the Caucasus and the foothills.

In terms of popularity, Caucasian bees are surpassed only by Italian bees.


Several populations of the grey Caucasian bee should be distinguished.


Beekeepers breed this population more often in the valleys of Abkhazia and mountainous areas. The peculiarities of the insects are their peacefulness, labour efficiency, endurance to low temperatures and moderate swarming. Also worth noting is their excellent nectar-gathering ability. Bees leave the hive early in the morning and return home late.


This species of bee is common in the territory of western Georgia. Their distinctive feature is their long proboscis (about 7.5 mm). This unique property allows them to extract nectar from the most inaccessible areas of honey bees. Specialists have identified the propensity of bees to survive harsh winters. Therefore, they are ideal for areas with harsh climatic conditions.

Iranian yellow

It is spread on the territory of Iran, Armenia and Azerbaijan. It is also bred in Abkhazia and Georgia. In the Russian Federation, the insects are found only in apiaries in the central regions, as bees do not like prolonged winter.

The body of the bee is grey without stripes. Collects nectar even at temperatures below +10 degrees Celsius. But in the spring time the departure process is delayed.

Among the positive qualities distinguish not swarming. However, the insect is subject to defeat by nesematosis and other diseases. Also for the period of hibernation consumes a small amount of feed. Bees fiercely protect their nests.

Valley yellow

Yellow stripes are visible on the abdomen of the insect. It tolerates the heat perfectly. On the territory of Iran, Georgia, Armenia it feels most comfortable. It has a yellowish grey colour. It does not show aggression when inspected.

Among the features of the breed should be highlighted low winter hardiness, so it is better to grow it in areas with a mild climate. Prepare pollen and propolis in sufficient quantities. Excellent survive transport.

The disadvantages include high swarming, susceptibility to disease, production of a small amount of wax.


An excellent variant for northern regions. The insect’s body colour is silver-grey without yellow flecks. The length of the proboscis can reach 7.5 mm, which affects the bee’s ability to get nectar from clover. They are noted for their industriousness and actively defend their hives from uninvited guests. Insects with low swarming behaviour.


This subspecies of Caucasian bees lives in the mountains of Azerbaijan. The body colour is grey. It is distinguished by a trunk up to 7 mm. The peculiarity is high fertility of queens. They are able to tolerate a decrease in winter temperature down to -25 degrees Celsius.

Cold resistance of Caucasian bees

Purebred Caucasian bees have a high resistance to frost. The ability of bees to survive the winter is influenced in particular by the physiological changes that take place in the insects’ bodies in autumn. Therefore, it is during the autumn period that they tend to consume a lot of pollen.

It has been noted that grey bees survive the cold season perfectly thanks to their ability to accumulate not only nutrients but also fat in their bodies.

Unlike Russian bees and Ukrainian bees, Caucasian bees have a hard time with long winters. They are more suitable for climates where the flightless period lasts 3-4 months.

Pros and cons of the Caucasian bee breed


– Insects are characterised by their low swarminess.

– Thanks to the special structure of its proboscis, the bee is able to extract nectar from even the most uncomplicated flower. Caucasian grey bees are considered to be the best bees for pollinating legumes and clover.

– They are orientated when choosing a honey plant. The Caucasian bee first determines the main source of nectar, then flies to another.

– Given the unique ability of this species to determine the level of nectar in the source, preference is given to specimens with a lower percentage of sugar content.

– The beekeeper does not need to pay close attention to the queen during egg-laying. The worker bees take care of everything.

– Careful attitude of bees to the hive. They can produce wax and propolis in sufficient quantities for its arrangement. The seal of honey they have is wet, dark in colour.

– The change of queen occurs without fuss. In order to prevent swarming, it is necessary to remove the excess part of the queen cell in time and slightly enlarge the nest.

Two mothers can coexist in one nest, although this is often a temporary phenomenon.


– Most populations are susceptible to nesematosis and rot, so it pays to constantly inspect hives to prevent problems in time.

– Thievery of the Caucasian worker bee.

– Bees tend to limit the uterus in seeding, so it is possible to reduce the colony.

– In some cases, brood is located on frames that are far away, which provokes mixing of bee bread and honey.


Caucasian grey mountain bee is popular among both experienced beekeepers and beginners. It is an excellent option when the honey yield is low, on clover fields and in the presence of greenhouses. They are unpretentious in care, but it is necessary to provide them with suitable conditions for the wintering period. Carefully select climates with long winters for them.

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