The Incredible Honey Bee...The Killer Bee vs Purebreds

An Italian Honey Bee
An Italian Honey Bee


Bees like all other insects are divided into species. The common name of European honey bees are named after the country or region from which they originated. The different bees also have different body sizes and coloring. Cross breeding can produce results not normally seen in purebred bee species.

Example of Bee Breed Crossing

The Africanized or common named Killer Bee, is actually a cross breed of the Italian Honey Bee and the natural African Honey Bee. This cross production created the "Killer Bee" that is indistinguishable by simply viewing the bee. The Killer Bee looks like the Italian Honey Bee, however has the aggressive characteristics of the African Bee, only at a higher level. Cross breed bees are sometimes called angry or mongrel bees and are unusually highly aggressive.

Examples of Purebred Bees

Species of bees are desired for the characteristics found within those bees. Italian for example are hardy bees and hard workers. They are high producers of honey and swarm less often. They can be distinguished by their light colored abdomen. They are very popular among American bee keepers. Easily managed, however like to rob other hives. The German bee is a darker smaller bee. This bee is often sickly and hard to managed. The Russian Bees are more disease resistant and are not prone to robbing other hives.

Selection of Honey Bees

It is essential to know the full characteristics of your honey bees. For example, when bee keepers have to re-queen (replace an aging or sickly queen) a colony it is usually difficult to cross some species. The Italians will rarely take a Russian Queen. As stated before the Italians will take an African Queen, however the bees become highly aggressive and dangerous.

The Advantages

Purebred honey bees are more calm than cross bred or mongrel bees. Crossbred honey bees are more aggressive than purebred bees. Purebred bees are more apt to be true to their traits: the reason most bees such as the purebred Italians or Russians are desired. There are less problems in bee societal structures, less stress on the hive, more of a natural flow, more of a community of the bees since they are of the same species. It is easier to specialize in care and treatment of purebred bees since the beekeeper knows what the pros and cons of that particular breed tend to be. For example, Italians tend to swarm two times a year in a larger number than the Africans which swarm three to four times a year. The Russians do not produce brood or babies except during the nectar flow and presence of pollen, whereas the Italian produces brood all year long. Cross-breeds are unpredictable in their nature and the colony traits can change from queen to queen. Some breeds as presented above tend to want their own specie of queen and will kill or reject another specie. Therefore, re-queening is more productive. Staying with a purebred honey colony is more predictable and manageable.

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Comments 2 comments

mabmiles profile image

mabmiles 5 years ago

Oh I never knew they're gorgeous insects more than I thought.


whonunuwho profile image

whonunuwho 3 years ago from United States

Thank you for this interesting hub about bees. whonu

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