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Italian honey bee

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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.
[edit] Anatomy

* 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.
Behavior

beneficial

* 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

Character

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

1. Gentleness or excitability
2. Resistance to various diseases and the tracheal mite plus the Varroa mite
3. Early spring buildup in population
4. Wintering ability
5. Not prone to excess swarming
6. Ripens honey rapidly
7. Honeycomb cappings are white
8. Minimal use of propolis
9. Availability and queen cost
10. Color
 

Finman 

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In Finland Italian bee is most popular. You may find Italian hives on Arctic circle and it can be overwintered in poly hives under snow.

Italian bee breeds are many. I have had them 40 years.
 
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How much I wonder do the New Zealand Italian honeybee variant differ from the original line... after one and a half centuries of inbreeding in the Antipodes... would they have gained attributes more suited to the Southern Ocean environment???

Possibly why they thrive in the subtropical Tamar Valley with its wet summers and mild winters... out performing the Buckfast type hybrids at every turn.

This year it seems the pure Cornish Amms have even outperformed the NZIs in terms of honey production... but possibly because we now have bigger and better colonies of them!!

Yeghes da
 

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This year it seems the pure Cornish Amms have even outperformed the NZIs in terms of honey production...
Do you keep both types in the same apairy?
If not, you may find yields are more likley down to available forage in an area. Very dodgy to compare honey gathered, if they aren't working out of the same apairy.
 
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Do you keep both types in the same apairy?
If not, you may find yields are more likley down to available forage in an area. Very dodgy to compare honey gathered, if they aren't working out of the same apairy.
No Valleys are about 15 miles apart in different river catchments.
I have not had a swarm of bees in the Amm valley for over 5 years... except for the one that dropped onto the grass in front of the hive it emmitted from... or is it issued??? ( Queen cliped.. year 3 decided to leg it ( OK wing it) fortunately I came along and hived her and her entourage,, now happy in a new home!

However I am lucky enough to have an NZI and a pure Cornish Amm colony sitting next to each other in a fantastic gardens.... Owners employ full time gardeners, and there is something in flower all the way through the year... up to last week I would have said that the NZI colony was winning hands down.... but the Amms have found the HB and an Indian Bean Tree,,, that only flowers every two years.....

The Silver valley if filled with Italian type bees ( a lot are mine as I supply other local beekeepers)... in a stones throw there are 6 other beekeepers!
My ZNIs mating apiary is also isolated and well supplied with drones, but again a good few miles from my honey producers... there have been bees kept in this valley for a few hundred years ( Beebolls everywhere!) and from the archives the density was higher in the past ( Hence Callington.. Kelliwick Honey Fair?)

Dyfen da
 
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