Italian

The Italian bee (Apis mellifera ligustica)

Photo Credit: Eran Finkle
Description

Worker Italian bees are light in color while the queen is a bit darker, which makes her easy to locate. Workers bees also have alternating stripes on their abdomen.

History

Originally from the Apennine Peninsula in Italy, Italian bees were introduced to America in 1859 and quickly replaced the original black or German bees brought over by the first colonists.

Characteristics

Italian bees are the most popular bees to order in North America. They are known for being gentle and good honey producers. They are typically reared in the south and have difficulty in colder climates, as they need to consume extra food to compensate for not forming a tight cluster the way other honey bee types do. Italian bees are strong foragers and do a great job keeping their hive clean.

On the down side, Italian bees tend to swarm and their sense of direction isn’t as strong as other bees, so they may drift from one colony to another and frequently rob. This can contribute to the spread of diseases between hives.