Only a few of the 25,000 or so species of bee make honey, and most of these produce only tiny amounts.

Honeybees inhabit every continent except Antarctica. Apis melllifera is the most common type in Europe, the US, Canada and Australia. Honeybees live in large colonies and store a lot of honey. In contrast, the bumblebee (Bombus bombus) lives in a small colony that stores a tablespoon at most.

Honeybee varieties differ in honey-making ability, honeycomb colour and building, hive-care, immunity, tendency to swarm (form a new colony), multiplication, appetite and character. The most popular are Italians (brown-and-yellow-striped), Carniolans (black or grey) and Caucasians (grey). Thanks to migration and importation, though, many honeybees are mongrels today.

From here on I'll generally call honeybees simply 'bees'.

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