Bees of temperate climates, unlike their relatives in tropical places, form their nests in hollow trees, crevices, and other sheltered locations that protect them from adverse weather conditions and predators. Beekeepers keep them in beehives.
Honey bees live in an organized community called a colony. During peak development, a hive can contain up to 60,000 worker bees, one queen bee, and approximately 1,000 drones.
The queen bee regulates the work of all bees by secreting pheromones, and her main task is laying eggs. The queen bee does not feed herself; she is nourished by the worker bees. Whether a bee larva develops into a worker bee or a queen bee depends on the larval diet. Initially, all larvae are fed royal jelly, a secretion from the specialized glands of very young bees that nourish them. After three days, worker bee larvae begin to be fed with pollen and honey. Larvae that will develop into queen bees continue to be fed with royal jelly.
Most of the tasks within the hive are performed by worker bees. It is widely accepted that the division of labour within the colony is associated with aging.
There are also a few drones in the hive whose task is to mate with the queen bee. In the presence of drones, bees intensify their nectar collection and comb-building activities. Drones are present in the hive only during the swarming season, and in the middle of summer (around the beginning or middle of July), bees expel them from the hive as they are no longer needed.
The Carniolan honey bee, also known as the Carniolan grey (its scientific name is Apis mellifera carnica), is an indigenous bee race that developed in the area of present-day Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro... Currently, it is the second most widespread race of the honey bee in the world, following the Italian honey bee.
It has brownish-grey hairs on its thorax, and the segments on its abdomen are dark with lighter spots on the first and second one. The Carniolan grey is known for its modest consumption of winter food reserves, as it overwinters in smaller communities.
Its spring built-up is vigorous, and the colony quickly grows to a size capable of exploiting forage. A reduced availability of natural forage causes it to adapt by decreasing the egg laying.
Compared to others, the Carniolan honey bee also has a greater ability to orient itself. It is a good comb builder and is not known for intense propolization. Compared to other races, it has a more pronounced tendency to swarm, which is not desirable in modern beekeeping, with a longer swarming period and a higher number of swarms in the season. One special advantage of the Carniolan grey is its gentleness.
The Carniolan honey bee is a protected race in Slovenia, and beekeepers are not allowed to introduce other bees.
Among the benefits provided by bees, the economic importance of pollinating agricultural crops is paramount. Nature rewards bees for their work with nectar and pollen, thus enabling their development and survival as well as the propagation of plant species. They are particularly crucial for the pollination of fruit trees as they pollinate as much as 70–80% of their flowers.
We owe the exceptional natural biodiversity to the role of bees as pollinators. The value of pollination is 15 to 30 times higher than the value of all bee products combined.