Italian honey bees, of the subspecies Apis mellifera ligustica, were brought to the U.S. in 1859. They quickly became the favored bee stock in this country and remain so to this day. Known for their extended periods of brood rearing, Italian bees can build colony populations in the spring and maintain them for the entire summer. They are less defensive and less prone to disease than their German counterparts,
and they are excellent honey producers. They also are very lightly colored, ranging from a light leather hue to an almost lemon yellow, a trait that is highly coveted by many beekeepers
for its aesthetic appeal.
Despite their popularity, Italian bees have some drawbacks. First, because of their prolonged brood rearing,
they may consume surplus honey in the hive if supers (removable upper sections where honey is stored) are not removed immediately after the honey flow stops. Second, they are notorious kleptoparasites and frequently rob the honey stores of weaker or dead neighboring
colonies. This behavior may pose problems for Italian beekeepers who work their colonies during times of nectar dearth, and it may cause the rapid spread of transmittable diseases among hives.
bee stock in the U.S. for several reasons. First, their explosive spring buildup enables this race to grow rapidly
in population and take advantage of blooms that occur much earlier in the spring, compared to other stocks. Second, they are extremely docile and can be worked with little smoke and protective clothing. Third, they are much less prone to robbing other colonies of honey, lowering disease transmission among colonies. Finally, they are very good builders of wax combs, which can be used for products
ranging from candles, to soaps, to cosmetics.
Because of their rapid buildup, however, carniolan bees tend to have a high propensity to swarm (their effort to relieve overcrowding) and, therefore,
may leave the beekeeper with a very poor honey crop. This stock requires continued vigilance to prevent the loss of swarms.
The RUSSIAN bee