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Cordovan bees

Cordovan bees

Cordovan bees are often called “golden bees” because of their distinctive bright yellow-brown colour. It is believed that the Cordovan bee is nothing but a common Italian bee with a brighter colour. In this article, let’s look at the characteristics of Cordovan bees, their advantages and disadvantages and finally draw a conclusion.


Cordovan bees were bred in America. They are believed to be a variety of the Italian breed with a more yellow colouring. They got their name because of the similarity in the colour of the leather for the production of shoes, which bore the same name – Cordovan.


These are very peaceful bees that do not show aggression when working with them. They are very suitable for beginner beekeepers.


Not prone to swarming. If there are prerequisites for swarming, then at the appearance of the slightest nectar in nature, destroy queen broods and leave the swarming state.

Physiological features

The colouration of individuals varies from golden to grey, three-banded individuals are found. The length of the worker’s proboscis varies from 6.4 to 7 mm. Unlike Italian bees, whose head and legs are black, Cordovan bees have burgundy or reddish-brown legs.

The queen has an even lighter body colour, so she is easy to spot on frames. Beekeepers who like to identify the queen will appreciate this difference from other breeds. A productive queen that stays fertile for up to 4 years.

Resistance to diseases

They do not have increased resistance to Varroa mite like, for example, Russian bees. I.e. their resistance is normal, as in other species.

A penchant for robbery

Cordovan bees are prone to robbing, although they are not known for their strong desire to protect their own. The tendency to rob is probably influenced by the large number of bees in the family, which must be provided with food.


In addition to their productivity in nectar collection (probably a distinctive feature of all southern bees), one of the pleasant advantages of this species is that they store all the honey in the upper supers, leaving the nest for brood. Because of this, there is no risk of honey flooding the lower brood house with brood and as a consequence, the colony’s strength declines due to the lack of free space for brood.

In addition to honey, Cordovan bees can produce much more royal jelly than all other bees. Of course, for small apiaries this is not such a significant advantage, but for large apiaries, royal jelly can significantly increase their profitability.

As it turns out, Cardovan bees are good builders. Many reviews of this breed state that they build honeycombs quickly, and do it neatly and straight.

Also because of their efficiency and large number of Cordovan bees, they are well suited for pollination.

How they tolerate the winter

They are not very fond of winter, especially when the temperature drops below 0 degrees Celsius. Since Cordovan colonies are predominantly large, they may consume an increased amount of food during the long and cold winter. In this respect, the Cordovan is more suited to warm, southern countries. Where the honey season is longer and winters are not so harsh and long.

The strength of a colony

The Cordovan queen is very productive and as a consequence the bee colonies are large and strong. They retain their strength throughout the whole time without droughts in winter and during the season.

Advantages of Cordovan bees

– Friendly and not aggressive;

– Not prone to swarming;

– Easy to spot the queen on the frame;

– Good honeycomb builders;

– Good pollinators;

– Produce more royal jelly;

– Stable colony strength over time.

Downsides of Cordovan bees

– Prone to robbery;

– Does not resist Varroa;

– Can consume larger quantities of honey;

– Not well adapted to long and harsh winters;


The Cordovan bee was bred in North America. Its main task is pollination. Therefore, families of large volume without noticeable shrinkage during the season, i.e. during the season has a good brood nest. Gains strong colonies before winter. Strong colonies come out of wintering. Because of this, the bee consumes more honey, as more forage is needed for a large number of brood. It works constantly and steadily. If other breeds can bring honey to the brood nest, shrink and require additional measures to support the strength of the family, this will not happen with the Cordovan. The bee is not prone to swarming. Can be closed with Heneman’s grid and kept out until the end of the season. Very peaceful. The bee is suitable for warm countries, for industrial volumes. Also suitable for beginners amateurs, because simple and stable. It does not require any additional work.

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