Italian Honey Bee

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Other common names: European Honey Bee; Western Honey Bee; Common Honey Bee

Scientific name: Apis mellifera ligustica

The basics:
The Italian Honey Bee (Apis mellifera ligustica), is a subspecies of the European Honey Bee (Apis mellifera). The European Honey Bee is one of seven recognized species of honey bee, and is the most commonly domesticated species of honey bee (the other being the Asian Honey Bee (Apis cerana)). Also see listings for other types of European Honey Bee: Buckfast Bee; Carniolan Honey Bee; European Dark Bee.

The European Honey Bee is believed to have originated in eastern tropical Africa and spread from there to Northern Europe and eastwards into Asia. There are many subspecies which have adapted to local geographic and climatic environments. The most common subspecies kept in North America, South America and southern Europe is the Italian Honey Bee.

The Italian Honey Bee is considered to be very gentle, not very likely to swarm, and produce a large surplus of honey. They have few undesirable characteristics. Colonies tend to maintain larger populations through winter, so they require more winter stores (or feeding) than other temperate zone subspecies.

Appearance / health:
The Italian bee is light colored and mostly leather colored, but some strains are golden.

Behavior / temperament:
All honey bees live in colonies where the worker bees will sting intruders as a form of defense, and alarmed bees will release a pheromone that stimulates the attack response in other bees. Some beekeepers believe that the more stings a beekeeper receives, the less irritation each causes, and they consider it important for safety of the beekeeper to be stung a few times a season. Beekeepers have high levels of antibodies (mainly IgG) reacting to the major antigen of bee venom, phospholipase A2 (PLA). Antibodies correlate with the frequency of bee stings.

Beekeeping (or apiculture, from Latin apis, bee) is the maintenance of honey bee colonies, commonly in hives, by humans. A beekeeper (or apiarist) keeps bees in order to collect honey and beeswax, to pollinate crops, or to produce bees for sale to other beekeepers. A location where bees are kept is called an apiary or "bee yard". A domesticated bee colony is normally housed in a rectangular hive body, within which eight to ten parallel frames house the vertical plates of honeycomb which contain the eggs, larvae, pupae and food for the colony.

Beekeepers typically use movable frame hives. Straw skeps, bee gums, and unframed box hives are now unlawful in most US states, as the comb and brood cannot be inspected for diseases. However, straw skeps are still used for collecting swarms by hobbyists in the UK, before moving them into standard hives.


gentle bees, incredible italian honey, coherent family unit, honey producers, urban rooftop


particularly cold climate, Brood Diseases, Bee Diseases, Wintertime feedings


good floral sources, good nectar flow, locally adapted queen

Helpful Italian Honey Bee Review

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