3 Italian bee

Italian bee

name = Italian bee
status = secure

image_width = 300px
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Arthropoda
classis = Insecta
ordo = Hymenoptera
familia = Apidae
genus = "Apis"
species = "A. mellifera"
subspecies = "A. m. ligustica"
trinomial = "Apis mellifera ligustica"
trinomial_authority = Spinola, 1806

"Apis mellifera ligustica" is the Italian bee which is a sub-species of the Western honey bee ("Apis mellifera").


The Italian honey bee originates from the continental part of Italy, South of the Alps, and North of Sicily. The subspecies may have survived the last ice age in Italy. It is genetically a different subspecies than the subspecies from the Iberian peninsula and from Sicily. It is the most widely distributed of all honey bees, and has proved adaptable to most climates from subtropical to cool temperate, but it is less satisfactory in humid tropical regions.

Italian bees, having been conditioned to the warmer climate of the central Mediterranean, are less able to cope with the "hard" winters and cool, wet springs of more northern latitudes. They do not form such tight winter clusters. More food has to be consumed to compensate for the greater heat loss from the loose cluster. The tendency to raise brood late in autumn also increases food consumption.


*Color: Abdomen has brown and yellow bands. Among different strains of Italian bees there are three different colors: Leather; bright yellow (golden); and very pale yellow (Cordovan).
*Size: The bodies are smaller and their overhairs shorter than those of the darker honeybee races
*Tongue length: 6.3 to 6.6 mm
* Mean Cubital index: 2.2 to 2.5

Disease Resistance

There is no clear evidence that "ligustica" are any more resistant to acarine mites than the Northern dark bee. They also appear to be less tolerant of "Nosema" than Northern dark bees. They are unable to retain faeces in the gut for long periods and require more frequent cleaning flights than the dark bees. They are affected by the parasitic varroa mite, Tracheal Mites, and the bacterial diseases European Foulbrood, American Foul Brood, Chalkbrood and other diseases of the honey bee.



*shows strong disposition to breeding and very prolific
*excellent housekeeper (which some scientists think might be a factor in disease resistance)
*uses little propolis
*excellent foragers
*superb comb builders
*covers the honey with brilliant white cappings
*shows lower swarming tendency than other Western honey bee races
*for areas with continuous nectar flow and favorable weather throughout the summer

not beneficial

*more prone to drifting and robbing than the other principal races of Europe.
*Often the strong brood rearing disposition and resulting large food consumption in late winter or early spring causes spring dwindling and hence slow or tardy spring development
*brood rearing starts late and lasts long into late Summer or Autumn, irrespective of nectar flow
*tends to forage over shorter distances than either "carnica" or "mellifera", and may therefore be less effective in poorer nectar flows.
*apparently lacks the ability to ripen heather honey before sealing.
*for cool maritime regions
*for areas with strong spring flow
*for areas with periods of dearth of nectar in the summer


It has a reputation for gentleness, but hybrids with the darker races can be especially vicious.

elective breeding

Breeders of Italian bees as well as other honey bee races look for certain beneficial characteristics. Depending on the breeding goal one or more of the following characteristics will be emphasized.

#Gentleness or excitability
#Resistance to various diseases and the tracheal mite plus the Varroa mite
#Early spring buildup in population
#Wintering ability
#Not prone to excess swarming
#Ripens honey rapidly
#Honeycomb cappings are white
#Minimal use of propolis
#Availability and queen cost
#ColorSource: [http://www.tnbeekeepers.org/pubs/The%2520Best%2520Bee.pdf] George Imrie's pink pages

Worldwide Distribution

*1814 introduced into the United Kingdom
*1853? introduced to Germany
*1839 introduced into New Zealand
*1859 introduced to the USA
*1862 introduced to Australia, on 9 December into Victoria aboard the steam ship Alhambra
*1866 introduced to Finland
*1884 (Easter) introduced to Kangaroo Island South Australia, sourced from Brisbane where they were previously imported in 1880 from Italy by Chas. Fullwood. It's possible Jas. Carroll had Italian bees in Brisbane by April 1875, but he certainly had them in 1877 when Angus Mackay accompanied a hive or hives of bees aboard the City of New York, packaged by Harbison in California. After a week's stopover in Sydney, the bees arrived in Brisbane. (Source: Barrett, P. "The Immigrant Bees, 1788 to 1898", Vols. I-III)

ee also

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Italian bee — noun yellowish honeybee resembling the Carniolan bee in its habits • Hypernyms: ↑honeybee, ↑Apis mellifera * * * noun Usage: usually capitalized I : a honeybee predominantly yellowish in color that resembles the Carniolan bee in habits …   Useful english dictionary

  • Bee bearding — is the practice of wearing several hundred thousand honey bees on the face, usually as a sideshow type demonstration at agricultural shows. Hive bees are attracted into position by a queen in a small cage worn under the chin.[1] Contents 1… …   Wikipedia

  • BEE — (Heb. דְּבוֹרָה). Beekeeping was practiced early in the Mediterranean region. However, there is no reference to it in the Bible where the bee is mentioned only four times and only once in connection with honey (Judg. 14:9). References to bees… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Bee (VB) — Infobox CityIT img coa = official name = Bee name = Bee region = Piedmont province = Province of Verbano Cusio Ossola (VB) elevation m = 591 area total km2 = 3.3 population as of = Dec. 2004 population total = 700 population density km2 = 213… …   Wikipedia

  • bee — I (Roget s IV) n. 1. [A stinging, honey gathering insect] Social classes: queen, worker, drone (male). Varieties include: domestic: CaucAsian, Madagascar, three banded, three band golden, golden CaucAsian, black, Italian, German, Carniolan,… …   English dictionary for students

  • European honey bee — Taxobox name = Western honey bee ( Apis mellifera ) image caption = Honey bee approaching a Milk Thistle flowerhead regnum = Animalia phylum = Arthropoda classis = Insecta ordo = Hymenoptera subordo = Apocrita superfamilia = Apoidea familia =… …   Wikipedia

  • Africanized bee — Killer bee redirects here. For other uses, see Killer bees (disambiguation). Africanized honey bee Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia …   Wikipedia

  • Queen bee — For other uses, see Queen bee (disambiguation). Carniolan queen bee with attendants on a honeycomb. The term queen bee is typically used to refer to an adult, mated female that lives in a honey bee colony or hive; she is usually the mother of… …   Wikipedia

  • Honey bee — For other uses, see Honey bee (disambiguation). This article refers collectively to all true honey bees; for the common domesticated honey bee, see European honey bee. Honeybees Temporal range: Oligocene–Recent …   Wikipedia

  • Maltese honey bee — Maltese honey bees on frame with queen cells Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.