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Macedonian bee

Macedonian bee

Apis mellifera macedonica – Macedonian bee, or more precisely Macedonian honeybee, the native bee of the Balkan Peninsula, an interesting bee that has several names and even another Latin name. Unexpectedly, the Macedonian bee has spread very widely across the continent. The debate about its habitat, origin and its relationship with other bee breeds is still going on.


The Macedonian bee Apis mellifera macedonica inhabits the Balkans, occupying the south-eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula, occupying parts of Albania, Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, the whole territory of Bulgaria, both mountainous and plain, partially occurs in Romania, and its range is believed to reach the borders of Poland and Ukraine.

In northern Greece, the Macedonian bee is considered a native bee, found in the area of Thrace. The border between Apis mellifera carnica and Apis mellifera macedonica, runs along the borders of the Republic of Macedonia, and through Albania, southern Serbia.

It is believed that after the retreat of the last glacier, bees remained in the mountains of Southern Greece, which became the ancestors of three breeds of bees – Southern Greek Bees, Macedonian Bees, Carnica, after the retreat of the glacier they descended to the valleys and developed in different habitats.

This is how the Macedonian Bees occupied their habitat as mentioned above.

In 1988 Ruttner proved that these bees are not related to Carnica. DNA studies of bees from different Balkan countries in 2014 confirmed this once again.


The colour of the thorax is dark, without large yellow spots or stripes. Abdomen dark, yellow spots small.

Forewing length 9.1 mm, width 3.2 mm, cubital index 2.6-3.0, proboscis length 6.4-6.6 mm.

Weight of the fertile queen 230-320 mg, weight of the non-fertile queen 190-220 mg.


Macedonian honey bees react quickly to changes in honey gathering environment: in case of good care and rich honey yield they are highly productive and form strong colonies, in case of lack of honey yield they use forage sparingly and limit the queen in egg-laying, but to a lesser extent than Caucasian bees do. Under normal conditions, the fertility of the queen reaches 2,000 eggs per day.

The harvested honey is put into honey supers and into the nest at the same time. Honey is sealed mainly with dry sealing (white wax caps), but sometimes mixed sealing of honey can be found.

The productivity of Macedonian bees is 19.5 kg of commercial honey per year in a stationary apiary. It is planned that by selection work with purebred Macedonian bees it will be possible to increase honey productivity and wax extraction by 30%.

Swarming tendency

In characteristic habitat conditions colonies are not prone to swarming, 3-5 % of apiary colonies fall into swarming condition. The bees enter swarming state when there is no space for a queen to seed. The Macedonian bee is characterised by self-change of the queen (quiet queen change).

How they tolerate the winter

In the Macedonian climate, bees can easily tolerate both high and low temperatures and winter well both on the plains and in the mountains. As far as Russian bees are concerned, of course they lose out in overcoming cold and long winters. But on the other hand in the Balkans there are no such cruel winters.


Macedonian bees are relatively peaceful and allow the experienced beekeeper to work without protective clothing or a smoke box.


The Macedonian bee is very productive, not prone to swarming and quite peaceful. Unfortunately, it is now on the verge of extinction due to the fact that many Italian bees and Carniolan bees are imported into the region. In this regard, programmes are being carried out to conserve these bees.

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