Georgia not only has a strong tradition of beekeeping, but is the central homeland for a unique bee species, too: the gray Caucasus honeybee. Due to their legendary ability to produce large amounts of honey despite cold weather conditions, good nature and phenomenal work ethics they have a long history of importance to beekeeping worldwide. Lead-gray in colour, very gentle and swarming infrequently, they build up strong colonies during summer and produce much honey.
Apis Mellifera Caucasica was studied and cultivated primarily by Soviet entomologists who were amazed by its ability to out-produce other bee types, even in non-native habitats, and by its long tongue, or proboscis, allowing them to reach nectar that its competitors can not. A Soviet-era report found that honey production by Georgia’s Caucasus bees exceeded that of the Russian Krasnopoliansk bee by 30 to 40 percent, rendering a sweet total of 25 to 30 kilograms of honey per season.
In the Soviet Union, their purity was considered so important that the entire country was deemed a natural reserve and no bee populations could be moved from one region to another without special attention. Those controls, however, were abandoned in the chaotic years following independence.
Today, due to lax breeding standards and an absence of scientific study for the past two decades, the species is in danger of losing its traits.Georgian bees, however, are sparking new interest due to the worldwide Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD): American entomologists are slowly starting to import genetic material from Georgian bees in the hopes it could add diversity to the dwindling bee populations in the United States.