Italian bees (Apis mellifera ligustica) are said to be the world’s most widely distributed honey bee. They are thought to have evolved in the Italian peninsular south of the Alps and north of Sicily, therefore in a climate that is reliable and warm for much of the year. In conditions like that it evolved to be very prolific, with queens laying throughout the year.
Italian bees are the standard for honey production. Italians tend to not gather nectar during cooler and overcast days. So if you have a cool and overcast Spring season your honey production will be lower.
In parts where there is reliable warm weather prolificacy is a benefit and is why they are popular in Australia, New Zealand and North America.
Benefits of Italian Honey Bees
- shows strong disposition to breeding and very prolific
- cleanliness/excellent housekeeper (which some scientists think might be a factor in disease resistance)
- uses little propilis
- excellent foragers
- superb comb builder (writing in Switzerland in 1862, H. C. Hermann stated the comb of an Italian bee-cell occupied only 15 cells for every 16 of the common black bee, and the cubic content was larger by 30%)
- 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
- a willingness to enter supers
- tendency to collect flower honey rather than honey dew